Night club owner faces prison sentence due to ongoing Copyright Infringement

Posted by Nicola Rochon on
Copyright infringement in nightclub
A night club owner has been sentenced to three months imprisonment on a suspended sentence, in addition to payment of £5,177 damages to the claimant and £17,000 in costs, for playing sound recordings in public without a licence in contempt of court.

Further to our article in November discussing the recent decision of the High Court that a designated premises supervisor of a nightclub was personally liable for authorising and procuring acts infringing copyright, this more recent decision acts as another important reminder of the personal risks nightclub owners and managers take if they fail to comply with the laws of copyright infringement.

The night club owner had been playing various sound recordings without gaining a licence from the owner of the copyright in those sound recordings. The Claimant had previously brought proceedings against the night club owner and was awarded Judgment. Unfortunately the night club owner continued to play the copyrighted sound recordings at his club in breach of the Court Order.

When making its decision, the Court took into account the following points:

  • Following the initial Judgment the night club owner continued to play the recordings for a long time. This was a deliberate infringement dating back to 2014 and an ongoing breach of the Court Order.
  • The Night Club owner failed to attend the Hearing. He claimed he had been caring for his mother and had four children that did not live with him to care for. The Court considered his caring responsibilities were not a sufficient reason for non-attendance at Court. There was also evidence that he had recently been to Ibiza for around a month, casting doubt on his inability to attend a hearing for one day.
  • The Night Club Owner only admitted to the breach of the Order after all the evidence was quite clearly stacked against him.

It is clear that as a result of the Defendant's behaviour after the initial judgment, and the obvious benefit he gained from this breach, the Court considered more severe consequences were the most appropriate way to ensure compliance with the judgment going forward.  The decision to impose a suspended prison sentence and the payment of punitive damages highlights the serious nature of Copyright Infringement and the strict approach the Courts are willing to take in relation to this.

If you have any questions in relation to copyright, or you think you may have grounds for a potential copyright infringement claim, please get in touch with the Intellectual Property Team at Blake Morgan who will be happy to assist. 

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Nicola Rochon is a Trainee Solicitor in our Employment team based in Southampton.

Nicola Rochon
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