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Nightspot banned from playing music for not having licence

NO LICENCE ... Opal Lounge must stay music-free until a recording licence is secured.

NO LICENCE ... Opal Lounge must stay music-free until a recording licence is secured.

TIME has been called on music at a South Tyneside night spot after it was served with a High Court ban for flouting recording laws.

The Opal Lounge, in Ocean Road, South Shields, has been barred from playing music by a judge at London’s High Court after it was discovered that tracks were being played at the venue without a licence.

Mr Justice Warren was told that John Pringle, trading as The Opal Lounge, was caught playing recorded copyrighted music there when he didn’t have a licence from music royalties collectors Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL).

In addition to the ban, the judge also ordered Pringle, who was not in court and not represented, to pay £1,899 in legal costs by May 21.

The bar says on its website that it “aims to establish itself as a stylish venue for party goers looking for a contemporary bar with an original house music soundtrack”.

The ban also extends to any other premises Pringle runs until he brings his licence up to date.

If he does not comply, he could end up behind bars. Failure to obey the order until all licence fees are brought up to date would be regarded as contempt of court, the penalties for which can be fines of up to £10,000 and up to six months’ prison.

The judge was told that he was caught after a PPL inspector visited the premises on January 31 and heard music being played when no licence was in force.

The inspector heard tracks including “The Happening”, “Stop Her On Sight” and “Show You The Way To Go”.

PPL’s counsel Jonathan Moss said that solicitors had sent letters to the premises informing Pringle of the nature and extent of PPL’s repertoire and the fact that the playing of sound recordings without PPL’s licence or permission constitutes infringement of its copyright, and inviting him to acquire a licence.

Depending on the size of a venue and the audiences involved music licences can cost very little but they can also run into hundreds or even thousands of pounds.

Nazneen Nawaz of PPL said: “PPL is the UK-based music licensing company which licenses recorded music for broadcast, online and public performance use.

“Established in 1934, PPL carries out this role on behalf of thousands of record company and performer members.

“Public Performance licences are issued by PPL to hundreds of thousands of businesses and organisations from all sectors across the UK who play recorded music to their staff or customers and who therefore require a licence by law.

“These can range from bars, nightclubs, shops and hotels to offices, factories, gyms, schools, universities and local authorities. Tariffs vary but a licence, issued on an annual basis, can cost as little as 18p per day.

“This licence is required to play recorded music in any business context and covers millions of different recordings. After the deduction of PPL’s running costs, all revenue collected is distributed to members. PPL does not retain a profit for its services. In 2012 PPL collected revenue of £170.8m.

“Members include major record labels and globally successful performers, as well as many independent labels, sole traders and session musicians ranging from orchestral players to percussionists and singers – all of whom are entitled to be fairly paid for the use of their recordings and performances.”

Pringle was not available for comment yesterday

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