Faces Bar in Northampton banned from playing music after High Court ruling

The owner of Faces Bar on Bridge Street says the venue could be open again by the weekend after its licence was suspended in December.
The owner of Faces Bar on Bridge Street says the venue could be open again by the weekend after its licence was suspended in December.

A bar in Northampton that was at the centre of investigation after a mass brawl in Bridge Street has now been banned from playing music.

Faces Bar was told by a judge at London’s High Court that it could no longer play music until all the licences were brought up to date.

Mr Justice Peter Smith imposed the sound of silence on Cherelle Cobley, who trades as Faces Bar at 33 Bridge Street, after hearing she was caught playing recorded copyrighted tracks when she did not have a licence from music royalties collectors Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL).

And in addition to the ban the judge also ordered Cobley, the occupier, proprietor and premises licence holder for Faces Bar, who was not in court and not represented, to pay £1,691 in legal costs within 28 days.

The music ban also extends to any other premises she runs until she brings her licence up to date. And if she does not comply she could end up behind bars.

Failure to obey the order and turn any premises she runs 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.

The judge was told that she was caught after a PPL inspector visited the premises and heard music being played when no licence was in force. The inspector heard tracks including ‘24 Hours’ by Teeflii featuring 2 Chainz, ‘Summer Love’ by Justin Timberlake and ‘Get Right’ by Jennifer Lopez on November 15.

PPL’s counsel Fiona Clark said that solicitors had sent letters to the premises informing Cobley of the nature and extent of PPL’s repertoire and the fact that the playing in public of sound recordings without PPL’s licence or permission constitutes infringement of its copyright, and inviting her to acquire a licence.

The ban applies 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.

Nazneen Nawaz, spokesperson for PPL, said: “PPL is the music licensing company which, on behalf of thousands of record company and performer members, licenses recorded music for broadcast, online and public performance use.

“Our 90,000 members include major record labels and independents as well as globally successful performers and session musicians, ranging from orchestral players to percussionists and singers. The majority are small businesses, all of whom are legally entitled to be fairly paid for the use of their recordings and performances.

“PPL issues licences to hundreds of thousands of businesses and organisations across the UK when they play recorded music to their staff or customers and therefore require a licence by law.

“Licensees include bars, nightclubs, shops, hotels, offices, factories, gyms, schools, universities and public sector organisations up and down the country. After the deduction of PPL’s running costs, all licence fee income is distributed to members. PPL does not retain a profit for its services.”