Blackpool bar bosses pay up to avoid music ban

Ma Kelly's
Ma Kelly's
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Bosses at a Blackpool bar chain were hit with a music ban by one of the country’s top judges.

Three Ma Kelly’s bars landed in hot water after they were caught playing copyrighted tracks without a licence.

Paul Kelly, Francis Kelly and Jordan Sadler faced the music at London’s High Court, where they were hit with a £3,000 legal bill.

A court order was also made stopping recorded music being played in any of the chain’s bars until bosses updated their licences with music royalties collectors, Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL).

A spokesman since said this had been done and did not stop any of its bars from opening.

In the wake of judge Mr Justice Mann’s verdict, PPL warned: “Businesses that choose to play recorded music without a licence may face legal action and possibly hefty financial and other consequences as a result.”

The court was told the bars’ proprietors were caught playing recorded copyrighted tracks at Ma Kelly’s Central, on Foxhall Road; Ma Kelly’s North, on Talbot Road; and Ma Kelly’s Showboat, on Queens Promenade.

However, the ban imposed by the judge covered all bars run by the defendants.

They were told they faced fines of up to £10,000 and up to six months in jail for playing recorded music again before they paid their licence fees.

The judge heard a PPL inspector heard music being played at all three bars on December 29.

The inspector heard tracks including ‘Tears On My Pillow’ and ‘Ghetto Child’ at Ma Kelly’s Central, ‘I’m Your Man’, ‘The Edge of Heaven’ and ‘Right Here’ at Ma Kelly’s North and ‘Uptown Funk’ and ‘Keep On Movin’’ at Ma Kelly’s Showboat.

Lawyers for PPL told the judge solicitors had sent letters to the proprietors informing them of the rules and inviting them to acquire a licence.

The ban applied to all forms of mechanically recorded music such as records, tapes and CDs in PPL’s repertoire.

Christine Geissmar, operations director at 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.

“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.

“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.”

Ma Kelly’s South, on Lytham Road, South Shore, was at the heart of a court case last year that saw Paul Kelly ordered to pay more than £300,000 after the bar traded without planning permission for more than three years.

Shortly after the ruling, Ma Kelly’s Fleetwood was put up for sale.