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The number of High Court cases involving illegal streaming and music rights in pubs and bars should send a clear message to licensees.

Recent research has shown that the number of cases involving illegally streaming of Premier League matches and cases involving pubs and bars playing commercially licensed music without a Performance Rights Society (PRS) licence are the highest number of cases in the High Court.

For the year ending 31 March 2019 the Premier League brought 36 claims before the UK High Court.

The PRS was the second most active user, bringing 25 claims, with Sky PLC and Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) who brought eight and six claims respectively, registering the fifth and seventh most claims.

Live blocking orders

In these cases the High Court is increasingly issuing “live blocking” orders to block access to streaming services (rather than the more tradition case of websites). These orders are issued under section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act.

Consequences

Since illegal streaming or playing commercially licensed music is a criminal offence, not only are licensees liable to hefty fines, but they may face losing their premises licence all together.

The prevention of crime and disorder is a licensing objective and clearly a licensee found guilty of an offence could face a review of their premises licence on the basis that they are operating in a way that it is not promoting the crime and disorder objective.

Stephen McCaffrey

Regulatory defence barrister specialising in alcohol and entertainment licensing law, appeals and defence.

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Licensing Defence Barristers are leading licensing barristers dealing with all legag matters relating to alcohol, entertainment and late-night licences.