The Malta Independent 22 February 2018, Thursday

Labour Party media ordered to pay €108,000 in royalties to Performing Rights Society

Wednesday, 14 February 2018, 17:00 Last update: about 7 days ago

A court today sentenced the Labour Party media to pay €108,000 in unpaid royalties to the Performing Rights Society.

PRS, which collects royalties for its members when their works are used in broadcast media, had sued One Radio and One TV for copyright infringement after the media outlets continued to use works from the PRS catalogue despite failing to apply for a licence to do so.

The defendants had “repeatedly, continually and persistently transgressed and contravened the authors’ rights in the face of a number of sentences handed down by the courts,” argued PRS, saying this had led to the loss of considerable amounts in royalties since 1998 when the case was filed.

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PRS asked the court to order the company to pay the royalties due, award damages and stop One from transmitting or broadcasting any of PRS’ artists’ works.

One pleaded the case was time-barred and argued that the society had to prove its ownership of the rights.

PRS representatives from the UK testified that PRS has a tariff specifically for broadcasters in Malta, which applies to both TV and radio and is based on a percentage of the revenue. For radio, this is a percentage of Net Broadcasting Revenue (NBR is as per Tariff is defined as the gross advertising revenue after deduction of actual advertising agency commission, if any, subject to the proviso that the maximum deduction permitted shall be 15%).

As regards TV, a single percentage is applied to the Total Broadcast Revenue, which is defined as the total amount of any revenue from any source which becomes payable to a Licensee under this Tariff in any given licence year, including, but not restricted to, revenue from advertising, donations, subscription, sponsorship, barter or contra deals, licence fees, government subvention and other grants.

The total amount claimed was € 364,616.

The first preliminary plea of the defendant company, that of time-barring, was partially upheld. With regards to the second, that of ownership of the rights to the music used, the plaintiffs had exhibited documentation proving that it did have ownership of the rights and the plea was therefore dismissed.

The court observed that the defendants had only rebutted the claim as “unfounded in fact or at law,” without going into detail.

It was up to the plaintiff to prove that it had author’s rights on the musical works broadcast and that the other party had done so without a licence to broadcast them.

Moreover the court noted that the defendants had not denied broadcasting the music in the time period specified.

Although the court found for the plaintiff, it observed that the request for damages was for 2010-2016 and said it could only work to the period 2010-2012 originally requested, which came to €108,196. A separate claim would have to be filed for the remainder, it said.

It denied the request to prohibit One from using the material again as this would make it impossible to continue to broadcast, a right granted to it by the competent authorities.

 

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