Gay bar refused to pay Britney Spears, Bon Jovi, Bruno Mars
A GOLD Coast nightclub operator facing a $115,000 bill for repeat "flagrant" breaches of music copyright sold his venue five months before the whopping fine.
Escape operator Steven Ritchardson quit his gay bar down the beach-end of Cavill Mall, Surfers Paradise, in July, the Bulletin can reveal.
A judgment against him and his operating company Escape Bar and Nightclub Pty Ltd last week orders both to cough up $35,000 each.
The $70,000 in fines are for three years when the gay bar ignored warnings to pay royalties for playing hits by Britney Spears, Bon Jovi and Bruno Mars and other stars.
Federal Circuit Court Judge Manousaridis also ordered the operating company to fork out a further $32,899.84 for what it should have paid in royalties to collection body APRA AMCOS.
Interest of $3849.48 and costs of $8930 were added.
New Escape owners Clinton Maxwell and Julian Kuters, who have revamped the first-floor venue and renamed it Rise, say the copyright case was nothing to do with them and they were concentrating on the bar revamp.
Mr Ritchardson was unable to be contacted yesterday.
APRA AMCOS head of revenue Richard Mallett said he was unaware of what Mr Ritchardson's response would be: "I don't know one way or the other - the judgement has only just come through last week."
Escape's unlawful use of chart-toppers started in September, 2014, and in a statement yesterday APRA AMCOS said it then spent three years unsuccessfully trying to get Mr Ritchardson to get a Recorded Music for Dance Use licence.
It launched legal action in August and Mr Ritchardson failed to appear at both hearings.
Judge Manousaridis said the $70,000 in damages against Mr Ritchardson and his operating company were for "the flagrancy and sustained infringement".
His judgment aimed to "deter other nightclub owners from infringing copyright in musical works".
Mr Mallett said the organisation had showed a "lot of patience" toward Escape and Mr Richardson before finally taking legal action in August.
"If someone hasn't paid and should, they will generally respond at a much earlier stage in the process."
Mr Mallett said such court action was rare and was only taken once or twice a year.
MUSIC RIPPED OFF
- Judge hits Escape nightclub owner Steven Ritchardson and operating company with $70,000 damages for three years playing hit music but ignoring paying $33,000 in copyright fees;
Royalties body APRA AMCOS says they unlawfully played Ariana Grande, Spice Girls, Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, Bon Jovi, Booty Luv, Britney Spears, P!nk, David Guetta, Bruno Mars and AC/DC