Ivory Lounge’s ban on music a mistake says owner

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A High Court order banning music from being played at a Dunstable nightspot was a misunderstanding that has now been resolved, according to the venue’s owner.

Stephen Miller, owner of the Ivory Lounge, High Street North, was served the ban and fined £1,915 last week after music royalties collectors Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) took him to court for not having the required licence for playing music.

PPL claims that it sent one of its inspectors to the Ivory Lounge on November 1 and heard tracks being played, including Encore, Sexual Healing and Candy.

During the hearing Charlotte Scott, counsel for PPL, said that solicitors had sent letters to the premises informing Miller of the nature and extent of PPL’s repertoire and the fact that the playing in public of sound recordings without PPL’s licence or permission constitutes infringement of its copyright.

They invited Mr Miller to acquire a licence but after not hearing back they referred the matter to their lawyers.

Mr Justice Peter Smith subsequently imposed the ban, which applies to all records, tapes and CDs in PPL’s repertoire.

Failure to abide by the order constitutes contempt of court, the penalties for which can be fines of up to £10,000 and up to six months in prison.

Mr Miller was not in court and claims that due to a postal mix-up the first he heard of the case was when the Gazette contacted him for comment. In a statement he said: “The first I heard about the ban was when I was contacted by the Dunstable Gazette, who informed us about the order.

“The PPL licensing company, it seems, were sending its correspondence to our previous address, therefore, we were not aware of them taking any action.”

He added that he originally refused to renew his PPL licence as the Ivory Lounge was being classified as a nightclub.

Mr Miller said: “Due to the Ivory Lounge being charged thousands of pounds more than other similar venues we therefore refused to renew our PPL licence.

“We were being charged as a nightclub as opposed to a restaurant. This dispute has now been resolved and the Ivory Lounge now has all PPL licences in place.

“The Ivory Lounge has also added an additional licence for live entertainment.”

He added: “While I agree PPL is a very supportive organisation for the live music industry and artists, there has been a genuine mistake categorising us as a nightclub, as nightclubs pay substantially more than restaurants.

“Other venues, such as the Gary Cooper, part of the Wetherspoon’s group, have recently decided not to renew their PPL licence and no longer play music or host a DJ.”

A spokesperson for PPL was unavailable for comment as the Gazette went to press.