Northampton bar owner prosecuted for playing ‘unlicensed’ Dire Straits music says he feels as if he is living in ‘police state’

Down Under bar in Wellingborough Road, Northampton

Down Under bar in Wellingborough Road, Northampton

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The owner of a bar in Northampton who has been left with a legal bill of more than £2,000 for playing recorded music without a licence says he feels like he is “living in a police state”.

Derek Jones, who runs the Down Under Bar in Wellingborough Road, has been prosecuted by the Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL) after he played recorded tracks without a licence.

At the High Court in London, Mr Justice Birss was told the licensing position had now been resolved, but he nevertheless ordered Jones to pay £2,066 in legal costs, which were run up by music royalties collectors in proceedings against him.

The judge was told that Jones was caught playing copyrighted music when no PPL licence was in force by inspectors who visited the premises on November 13, 2015 and March 19 this year.

The inspectors heard tracks including ‘Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself’ by Jess Glynne, ‘She’s Kinda Hot’ by 5 Seconds of Summer, ‘Good Times’ by Ella Eyre and ‘Sultans of Swing’ and ‘Your Latest Trick’ by Dire Straits.

But Mr Jones says he is going to appeal the cost order as he feels he has been unfairly treated by the PPL.

He said: “It feels like we are living in a police state.

“I’m very busy as I have another business and I’m doing millions of things at the same time. I only open the bar on Friday and Saturday nights.

“They sent two inspectors down and they never said a thing and then left.”

Christine Geissmar, operations director, PPL said the judgement acknowledges that the “performers of the music and record companies should be fairly rewarded”.

She said: “Businesses that choose to play recorded music without a licence may face legal action and financial and other consequences as a result. Legal action is only ever sought as a last resort where a business continues to play music following repeated attempts from PPL to get the correct licensing in place.”

PPL issues licences to hundreds of thousands of businesses and organisations across the UK when they play recorded music to their staff or customers. Licensees include bars, nightclubs, shops, hotels, offices, factories, gyms, schools, universities and public sector organisations across the country.

Mrs Geissmar said: “After the deduction of PPL’s running costs, all licence fee income is distributed to PPL’s record company and performer members. The majority are small businesses, all of whom are legally entitled to be fairly paid for the use of their recordings and performances. PPL does not retain a profit for its services.”