Reference:  EWCA Civ 700;  EMLR 359
Court: Court of Appeal
Judge: Lord Woolf MR, Aldous & Sedley LJJ
Date of judgment: 2 Feb 1999
Summary: Intellectual property - Copyright - Licensing - Performance of musical items - Royalties
Instructing Solicitors: Maidstones for PRS. Pothecary & Barratt for the Defendant.
The Plaintiff was a licensing body which administered the performing rights in musical works of its members and a large number of foreign copyright owners. Anyone who wished to perform a musical work from the Plaintiff’s repertoire required a licence from it. The Defendant was the Chairman and Managing Director of Pizza Express, which provided its customers with live musical entertainment. The Plaintiff licensed the Defendant from year-to-year. The Plaintiff commenced an action against the Defendant for money due to it under the licence and was awarded damages. The judge also dismissed the Defendant’s counterclaim, which sought declarations as to the meaning of the licence. The Defendant appealed.
the true construction of the licence
On its true construction, the licence provided that where the total of gross salaries, gross wages, fees, expenses or other emoluments paid to performers (other than disc jockeys); and gross fees (net of any value added tax) paid to third parties for the services of performers was £8,356 or more, the royalty due was 4 per cent of such expenditure. The percentage related to music that was both within and outside the PRS repertoire. Whether this was reasonable or not was a matter for the Copyright Tribunal. The appeal was dismissed.
The case was notable for the proposition that a tariff could be set by reference to copyright as well as non-copyright music.