By Ian Neubauer

A recent court ruling that resulted in a $355,000 fine for a nightclub operator over unpaid royalties has highlighted industry need to keep abreast of licensing requirements for live and recorded music played in public areas. 

The Federal Magistrates Court found Robert Botazzi, the former director of companies that ran Crown Casino’s Heat Nightclub and Cougars Tavern in Helensvale, Queensland, had shown “contumelious disregard” for the law by refusing repeated offers to enter into licensing agreements with artists’ representatives.

The proceedings were instigated by the Australian Performing Rights Association (APRA), a not-for-profit organisation that collects royalties on behalf of more than 47,000 artists and musicians across Australia.

APRA chief executive, Brett Cottle, said it was unfortunate legal action had to be taken to protect APRA’s clients.

“Infringement by operators of taverns or nightclubs is a matter of serious concern. It’s disappointing that in this particular situation, APRA had to resort to litigation for a resolution,” Cottle said.

“Our relationships with music users are generally co-operative. Most operators of nightclubs and taverns are aware of their obligations to APRA and apply for and are granted licences by APRA. The Court’s decision re-affirms long-standing laws on infringement of copyright and the authorisation of infringement.”

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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