Phonographic Performance Ltd v Abimbola Balogun t/a Mama Africa [2018]
  • 20th Jun 2018

In the recent case of Phonographic Perfromance Ltd v Abimbola Balogun t/a Mama Africa [2018] EWHC 1327 (Ch), 16 May 2018.) the High Court refused to grant permission to appeal against a summary judgement for authorising copyright infringement

If a business wishes to play recorded music, that is subject to a copyright, in public, they will generally need to obtain a licence from the relevant collecting societies, namely Performing Right Society Limited and Phonographic Performance Limited.

In this case, the Defendant, a restaurant owner, let his premises to a third party for a function. The third party hired DJs who played recorded music on the premises. The Claimant, Phonographic Performance Ltd, brought a claim against the Defendant for infringement of copyright laws. The Claimant claimed that the Defendant played a sound recording at his restaurant known as “Mama Africa” which infringed the Claimant’s copyright it held in relation to two songs.

The Defendant argued that he had not authorised the acts of infringement as he had no control over what music the DJ played, and in response to this, the Judge stated at the summary judgment hearing that:

“As it seems to me, that is a risk he took and that, in fact, by reason of allowing these events to take place on his premises he, in effect, is authorising what took place in relation to the playing of music and that music has proven to be played in infringement of the claimant's rights."

Owners of premises, where music is played, are required to have licences from the relevant collecting societies in order to avoid liability for infringement. This case should come as a warning to restaurant owners to act with caution when letting their premises out for functions and the importance of retaining a degree of control over the events.

Article written by Emma Salmon