Pub hit with heavy fine after illegally playing music

Mortimer's, King Street, Wigan
Mortimer's, King Street, Wigan

A WIGAN pub has been heavily fined and banned from playing music after a clampdown by licensing officials.

The owners of Mortimer’s Bar on King Street were fined £1,600 and ordered to pay £1,592 costs by the High Court after they were caught playing music without a licence.

One of the country’s top judges, Mrs Justice Asplin ruled against the popular venue at the trial last week after hearing that Mortimer’s was caught playing recorded copyrighted music there when the owner didn’t have a licence from music royalties collectors Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL).

And earlier last week the same judge imposed a similar ban on Club Enterprises Ltd and James McHugh to prevent them playing music at Embargos, at 6 Birkrig, Skelmersdale, along with an order that they pay £2,040 legal costs. The owners were also fined £2,000.

The bans mean they must stop all playing of recorded music and any premises they run until their licences are brought up to date. If they don’t obey the pay up or shut up orders they could end up behind bars.

Failure to obey the orders and turn any premises they run into a music-free zone 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 for any individuals responsible.

The judge was told that a PPL inspector visited the Wigan premises and heard tracks including ‘Wings’ by Little Mix, ‘Spectrum’ by Florence and the Machine and ‘We Found Love’ by Calvin Harris and Rihanna on being played when no licence was in force on 16 March.

When an inspector visited the Skelmersdale premises on May 4 he heard recorded tracks being played which included “Toca’s Miracle”, “Clown” and “Funky Vodka”.

The bans apply to all forms of mechanically recorded music such as records, tapes and CDs in PPL’s repertoire. 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.

PPL spokesperson Nazneen Nawaz 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.

“After the deduction of PPL’s running costs, all revenue collected is distributed to members. PPL does not retain a profit for its services.

“With over 6,500 members who are record companies or other recorded music rights holders and 50,000 performer members, PPL has a large and diverse membership. 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.

“PPL’s role and remit increases year on year. The company receives details electronically on a weekly basis for an average of 6,500 new recordings.”