A recent decision in the District Court has clarified the law relating to royalty claims against retailers, bringing it more in line with decisions of the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
Phonographic Performance Ireland (PPI), which is licensed to collect music royalties on behalf of labels such as Sony, EMI and Warner, recently lost their claim for royalty payments against Patrick Burke Shoes Limited. PPI claimed that they were owed over €2,000 in royalties as artists recorded by their client companies were being played over the radio in Burkes Shoes on Talbot Street and in the Donaghmede Shopping Centre.
Currently Irish copyright law permits royalties where music ‘has been communicated to the public’. However lawyers for Patrick Burke Shoes Limited successfully relied on two ECJ cases which set out the key areas of law to be considered when deciding if royalty payments are due and owing. Justice Mary Collins, citing a number of ECJ cases, held that Patrick Burke Shoes Limited were not liable to make royalty payments as:
- Only a small amount of people were hearing the music at any given time
- The shops were not playing the music for profit
- The music was not being played to influence people into entering the stores in the first place
This ruling has a positive impact for retailers as it means that PPI, which bills a large number of retailers for royalty payments, is unlikely to be able to enforce these claims in the future.