High Court win for Hamlins as injunction granted against individual for persistent breach of copyright

A High Court ruling has demonstrated that the courts will clamp down on individuals who deliberately and persistently breach copyright.

In the recent case of Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL) vs John Nash, law firm Hamlins LLP successfully represented PPL in an application to grant summary relief and secure an injunction against a music bar and nightclub owner for persistent copyright infringement.

PPL sued John Nash for playing or authorising the playing of music at the venue without being licensed to do so. Nash knew that PPL held the public performance rights in the recordings and so PPL pursued an injunction to stop Nash from continually infringing its copyright.

Nash resisted the application for summary judgment, arguing that he was a mere employee of a company that operated the venue, he didn’t trade from the premises on his own account and that he wasn’t the ‘controlling mind’ of any company operating from the venue.

But Judge Pelling QC agreed with PPL, claiming that it was clear that Nash was not ‘only an employee’ and there was evidence of his continuing role as the responsible office holder under the licensing legislation. The Judge further ruled that even if the court did accept that Nash was only an employee, this was no defence to copyright infringement and Nash wouldn’t be able to avoid any personal liability on that basis.

Laurence Gilmore, partner in the Entertainment, Media & IP Department at law firm Hamlins LLP that represented PPL, said:

“This is an important ruling confirming that being an employee is no defence to an action for copyright infringement, and that the courts will support copyright holders’ attempts to stop this behaviour.

It also means that employers will also be vicariously liable for these wrongs committed by their employees. The employers will also be liable for any licence fees or damages for infringement of copyright.”