On 25th October 2016, Miya Nightclub, in Chelmsford Essex, which has featured in the hit ITV show The Only Way Is Essex, was banned from playing recorded music after it was found to be playing music without the necessary licence. A separate costs hearing will take place on 17th November 2016.

The trial, which started on 28th September 2016, centred on one of the defendants, Ms Kerry Ormes.  Ms Ormes was the nightclub's Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) - the key person charged with the day-to-day management of the premises under the Licensing Act 2003.  Ms Ormes denied being responsible for any infringement at the club, claiming she was not the manager or proprietor, or had any proprietary interest in the running of the club.

Master Clark, who gave the judgment, found that Ms Ormes was liable for authorising and procuring acts infringing copyright, namely the playing of sound recordings and musical works at the club without licences from PPL and PRS for Music. In giving her judgment, Master Clark accepted PPL’s and PRS’ evidence summating, it would be unusual for a DPS not to be a person who had managerial control of the premises in order to meet the licensing objectives.

Further, the evidence showed that Ms Ormes acted as the manager of the nightclub, and that her managerial responsibilities would generally include the booking of DJs and promoters.  

The Master awarded PPL and PRS for Music an injunction against the defendant to prevent further infringement by Ms Ormes by playing music in public without a licence in place. Costs will be determined at a hearing on 17th November 2016.

Paul Clements, Commercial Director, PRS for Music, said: “Music can have many positive benefits for business, whether used for staff and customer entertainment, or to enhance financial gain / profits. We support businesses across all sectors with licensing advice, so that music can be enjoyed by all, and in-turn ensure that the creators of music are fairly and legitimately paid for their work.”

Christine Geissmar, Operations Director, PPL said: “There is an intrinsic value that music adds to businesses, and this judgement acknowledges that the creators of the music should be fairly rewarded for this. This ruling demonstrates how seriously the courts treat copyright infringement and reiterates that music can only be played in public if the right licences are obtained. Those businesses that choose to play recorded music without a licence will face legal action as a result.

“PPL and PRS for Music regards legal proceedings as very much a last resort but unfortunately they are sometimes necessary. A court can order the business to pay its outstanding music licence fees plus PPL and PRS’ legal costs and issue a court order known as an injunction to stop the business playing recorded music until this is done.

“In this instance, in spite of us repeatedly contacting the defendant to get the correct licensing in place, this case was taken to the High Court in London, where the defendant was banned from playing any copyrighted recorded music until a licence is purchased.”