Featured Image for Melbourne bar told to pay $200K for playing songs without license

Melbourne bar told to pay $200K for playing songs without license

Earlier this year, Kristine Becker, the owner of Melbourne cafe and wine bar Hairy Little Sista, came under scrutiny for underpaying and withholding the wages of staff. Her problems haven’t ended there.

Now Becker has been ordered to pay close to AUS$200,000 (about US$144,000) for playing music in her venue without the necessary licensing fees.

Whether it’s a bar, a retail store or a bookshop, all music artists have the right to royalties if their music is played in a public place. Streaming services have made this issue increasingly difficult to police, but it appears that Hairy Little Sista had ample notice of their wrongdoing and plenty of opportunities to correct the behaviour.

The Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA) – a non-profit organisation that provides businesses with licenses to play recorded music in public – contacted Becker many times. How many, you ask? They sent 20 letters, 18 emails and made over 40 phone calls. The correspondence regarding the necessity for her to hold a license started way back in 2012.

And yet, Becker refused to take action. In the judgement that was handed down in the Federal Circuit Court in September, Judge Julia Baird stated that Becker had shown a “flagrant disregard of copyright, or at least turned a blind eye or put their ‘heads in the sand’.”

Through all of the controversy, the owner of Hairy Little Sista has remained strangely silent. She didn’t even turn up to her own court hearing, despite a last-minute phone call from the court. However, her absence didn’t affect Judge Baird’s verdict.

She was satisfied that Becker was both aware of the allegations made against her, and that she knew of the necessity for venues to hold a license to play recorded music. Judge Baird ordered Becker to pay AUS$185,000 (US$131,000) in damages, plus additional undisclosed costs.

So what tracks were so good that they were worth infringing copyright to listen to? They’re listed below:

  • The Ballad of John and Yoko – The Beatles
  • Hooked on a Feeling – Blue Swede
  • Saturday Night – Bay City Rollers
  • T.S.O.P – Kevin Rowland and Dexys Midnight Runners
  • Be My Baby – Bay City Rollers
  • Blow – Blossoms
  • Stockholm – Atlas Genius
  • Imaginandote feat Daddy Yankee – Reykon
  • Andy – Last Dinosaurs

Via ABC News

Leave a comment