Simpsons Solicitors

You got a licence for that?

June 22nd 2012

A recent case in the Federal Magistrates Court underlines how important it is, if you run a business, to make sure you have all the right copyright licences in place.

Despite the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA) asking the owners/directors of two beauty salons and day spas to take out licences for the recordings they were playing in their business,  the owners refused.

Eventually, PPCA took them to court, and the court awarded damages against the business and its owners/directors of $50,541.97.

The case is salutary, because the damages awarded were made up of two components:

$541.97 for general damages (which may have been the cost of the licences that the owners refused to take out); and
$50,000 by way of additional or “aggravated” damages (essentially punishment by the court for the businesses having blatantly ignored PPCA’s legitimate demands that if recordings were going to be played in the business, then the business owners/directors would need to take out a licence).

In addition, the court awarded PPCA costs – which means that the business  owners/directors will have to pay a hefty component of PPCA’s legal fees on top of the award of damages.

The case is Phonographic Performance Company of Australia Ltd v Advanced Beauty & Body Care Ltd  [2012] FMCA 486 (7 June 2012), and contains reference to other cases in which courts have awarded sizeable aggravated damages claims against companies refusing to take out copyright licences. The judgment is available at:

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/FMCA/2012/486.html

If you need advice on how to make your business copyright compliant, contact Ian McDonald (Special Counsel, Copyright) or copyright lawyer Adam Simpson at Simpsons Solicitors.