National Enforcement Program
PPCA operates a nation-wide inspection and enforcement program which is utilised in circumstances where business owners, despite PPCA’s repeated efforts, refuse to take out the necessary licences for the public performance of protected sound recordings on their premises. To protect artists, labels and our compliant licensees, PPCA has added resources to the National Enforcement Program including teams of inspectors visiting venues and premises all around Australia.
Where a PPCA inspection confirms the unauthorised public performance of sound recordings or music videos by a business, PPCA’s Department of Business and Legal Affairs pursues that business, either through legal proceedings or negotiation, to ensure that a successful licensing arrangement is implemented, including payment of back fees.
PPCA always prefers that a business takes out the appropriate licence without the need to resort to legal action. We have licensing staff to assist businesses in what can be a complex area of legal compliance, particularly for those who encounter copyright issues for the first time. Unfortunately some business owners, despite PPCA’s efforts, do on occasion refuse to take out the necessary licences and in these circumstances they leave PPCA little alternative than to carry out site inspections and commence legal proceedings.
It is important for business owners to know their legal obligations with regard to playing copyright protected sound recordings and music videos in a commercial environment, and to seek legal advice if they are uncertain.
If you are using sound recordings in your business, and do not have a licence from either PPCA or the relevant record companies, we urge you to please contact our licensing department on 02 8569 1111 or email@example.com.
In late 2010, PPCA brought legal proceedings against the individual proprietor of a small suburban pizza restaurant who had failed to obtain a licence for a jukebox. In February 2011, the Federal Magistrates Court ordered that the business owner pay PPCA $5,500.00. This sum included back fees for the whole period that PPCA had been in contact with the business owner in relation to his licensing obligations.
In October 2011, in proceedings brought by PPCA in respect of a small chain of clothing stores in New South Wales, the Federal Magistrates Court issued a judgment against the company which owned the chain as well as the directors of that company. The Court ordered that the company and the directors pay PPCA $1844.48 for tariff M licence fees (including back fees for all stores for the whole of the time during which PPCA had been writing to the business about its licensing obligations), $8200 in respect of legal costs and additional damages of $30,000.
In early 2011, proceedings were commenced by PPCA against a well known chain of boutique Australian fashion stores and the director of that company. The proceedings were settled and the Federal Magistrates Court ordered that the company and its director pay PPCA $6,000. Again, this sum included payment of PPCA licence fees for all stores for the period that PPCA had been in communication with them.
In March 2011, proceedings were lodged in the Federal Magistrates Court against two companies which were responsible for a well known Sydney nightclub and the directors of these companies. PPCA had terminated the nightclub’s licence because it failed to pay its licence fees. After termination, PPCA obtained evidence that PPCA sound recordings were still in use. This gave rise to claims for copyright infringement and breach of contract. In April 2011, the Court made an Order, reflecting an agreed settlement, whereby the respondents were to pay PPCA the sum of $40,000.00.
In mid 2011, PPCA commenced proceedings in respect of a nightclub in Prahran, Victoria. The proceedings were settled and the Federal Magistrates Court ordered that the company and its directors pay PPCA $45,000.
In late 2010, in litigation commenced by PPCA against a company trading as a prominent Sydney nightclub and the directors of that company, which was subsequently settled, the Federal Magistrates Court ordered that the company and its directors pay PPCA damages of $118,383.33.
In July 2010, in proceedings brought by PPCA in respect of a Queensland nightclub, the Federal Magistrates Court issued a judgment against All Girls Entertainment Pty Limited as well as the director and former director of that company. The Court ordered that the company and the directors pay PPCA $145,332.95 in tariff E1 licence fees for the venue (this included back fees for the whole of the three year period over which PPCA had been writing to the club about its licensing obligations) as well as interest on that sum of almost $15,000.00. The Court also awarded PPCA additional damages of $90,000. Lastly, the Court made an order stopping the use of PPCA sound recordings at the nightclub, unless the use was properly licensed.
Soon after commencing its Enforcement Program, PPCA sued a popular Adelaide nightclub for infringement of copyright after an inspection of the nightclub revealed the unlicensed performance of copyright protected music on its premises. The Federal Magistrates Court awarded PPCA damages (licence fees including back fees for prior periods), interest on unpaid fees and legal costs in the sum of $58,080.96. In addition, recognising the nightclub’s deliberate and blatant disregard for copyright law, the Federal Magistrates Court awarded PPCA additional damages in the amount of $85,000.00.
In mid 2011, PPCA commenced proceedings in the Federal Magistrates Court against the business owner of a fitness centre in Smithfield, New South Wales, which had not obtained a licence for the commercial music played in fitness classes. The matter settled for $4,500, which included backdated PPCA licence fees.
In 2008, PPCA commenced copyright infringement proceedings in the Federal Magistrates Court against a large fitness centre in South Australia. The matter was set for a trial hearing on 8 December, however, it settled shortly prior on 3 December 2008, in favour of PPCA. The owners paid PPCA the sum of $30,000.00, which includes PPCA licence fees dating back to February 2003.
Proceedings for copyright infringement were lodged in the Federal Magistrates Court in June 2011 in relation to a Sydney pub that did not have a licence for its jukebox. After one court hearing, settlement was agreed, and the respondents (the company that owned the hotel and its officers) must pay PPCA $6000, as ordered by the Court.
In mid 2010, PPCA started proceedings against the corporate business owner of a small suburban hotel just outside Adelaide and its officers. The proceedings were quickly settled and the Federal Magistrates Court made an order in July 2010 that PPCA was to be paid $2,400.00. In particular, this sum included all licence fees due for the hotel’s jukebox, for the whole period over which PPCA had been in communication with the hotel.
On 21 January 2009, PPCA lodged proceedings in the Federal Magistrates Court against a hotel in Tasmania for infringement of copyright in music videos. The matter settled out of court in February 2009. As part of settlement, the owners of the hotel applied for a PPCA licence and paid all backdated fees, interest on those fees, PPCA’s legal costs and additional damages.
For several years, PPCA had been communicating with an entertainment complex in Western Australia which regularly hired its premises out to third parties for music festivals, weddings and other functions. According to the Copyright Act, the occupier of the premises, typically the owner, has the primary responsibility to hold all necessary music licences. However, the owners of the entertainment complex refused to obtain licences for any third party events held at the complex involving the public performance of sound recordings because they hired the premises out for these purposes.
PPCA’s inspector attended a music festival held at the entertainment complex and identified protected sound recordings playing. In December 2009, PPCA commenced proceedings against the owners of the entertainment complex using the evidence obtained at the music festival. The matter settled in April 2010. PPCA obtained licence fees for the inspected festival, interest on unpaid fees, legal costs and additional damages to reflect the owners’ ongoing infringement of copyright. The owners also submitted a PPCA licence application in respect of private functions (e.g., weddings) held at the entertainment complex.