Nightspot in Grantham was told to “pay up or shut up” by High Court after being found playing music without a licence

Chameleon, in High Street, Grantham, which has just closed.
Chameleon, in High Street, Grantham, which has just closed.
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The operators of Grantham’s Chameleon Music Bar where ordered by the High Court to “pay up or shut up” after being found playing recorded copyrighted tracks without a licence.

The court was told that New Morley Leisure Ltd, occupiers, proprietors and premises licence holders for the Chameleon Music Bar, in High Street, were discovered playing recorded copyrighted tracks without a licence from the music licence organisation, Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL), on May 2.

A music ban and a legal costs bill of £1,680 was imposed by the High Court on the proprietors of the bar, which was closed last Wednesday.

The pay-up or shut-up order was imposed by Mr Justice Mann who was told that a PPL inspector heard music being played on the premises, when the company did not hold a PPL licence.

The High Court was told the inspector heard tracks including “Uptown Girl” by Billy Joel, “She’s Electric” by Oasis and “Toy Boy” by Sinitta on May 2.

Fiona Clark, counsel for PPL, told the judge that solicitors had sent letters to the premises informing the company of the nature and extent of PPL’s repertoire.

The letter also stated that playing sound recordings in public without PPL’s licence or permission was an infringement of its copyright.

The letter also invited the premises to acquire a licence.

Justice Mann banned the company – which was not represented - from playing recorded music at any premises it runs until it brings its licence up to date.

He also ordered it to pay £1,680 in legal costs run up by PPL in taking it to court.

The sum must be paid by August 12.

Failure to obey the order and turn any premises it 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 contempt of court can be fines of up to £10,000 and up to six months prison for individuals responsible.

Now pubs, clubs, commercial premises and anywhere in the Grantham area where music is played publicly have received a sharp warning from the PPL.

Christine Geissmar, operations director for PPL said: “There is an intrinsic value that recorded music adds to businesses, and this judgement acknowledges that the performers of the music and record companies should be fairly rewarded.

“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 up and down the country.

“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.”

A spokesman for the Chameleon Music Bar and Steakhouse, which closed last Wednesday, was not available to comment.


Chameleon Music Bar in Grantham shuts after two-and-a-half years