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Copyright owners pursue the most claims through the High Court

By | Published on Tuesday 31 October 2017


In these uncertain times in which we live I think we’ve all worried at various moments about the future job security of our judges, so hurrah for the copyright industries for ensuring that the High Court in London remains busy.

According to law firm RPC, which has been doing some counting, the three leading claimants in the High Court in the year up to 31 Mar 2017 were all in the business of copyright. And two of them music copyright.

Leading the way by bringing a massive 106 cases to court was the UK record industry’s collecting society PPL, while its counterpart in music publishing, PRS, came in third with 27 cases. The Football Association is in second place having filed 39 cases, mainly seeking to protect its intellectual property rights against those illegally accessing or airing footage of football matches.

PPL, of course, grants licences on behalf of artists and record labels to those seeking to exploit the ‘performing rights’ of the sound recording copyright, which mainly means broadcasters and any business that plays recorded music in a public space.

Performing rights income – long a key revenue stream for songwriters and music publishers – became a much higher priority for the record industry as CD sales slumped in the early 2000s and record companies started to chase every single penny they were due. As a result PPL became much more proactive in enforcing its members rights. And, according to the figures put out by RPC, it remains pretty damn prolific today.

Says the law firm’s Ciara Cullen: “Legal action can be an effective way for music companies and their representatives to recoup some of the money lost from reduced sales from the digitalisation of music content”.

She adds: “Pubs, restaurants and nightclubs can be easier to pursue for potential copyright infringement than other culprits such as illegal file sharing websites that tend to be based off-shore. Not only do the considerable damages make the process of going to court worth it for record labels or performers, but they can also help to act as a deterrent for other offenders”.

So well done PPL on your litigious achievements. Why not sue someone to celebrate?