December 6, 2018

You really should pay those APRA fees when it comes knocking...

The Rocksalt Bar and Restaurant in Kerikeri has paid a $18,000 price for ignoring APRA's requests to pay appropriate licence fees for the music it played.

The Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) is a royalty collection organisation, that collects royalties on behalf of copyright owners when their musical works are performed in NZ. In the ordinary course of events, businesses like bars and restaurants play a licence fee to APRA, in order to be able to play music in their venues.

Despite numerous requests by APRA, Rocksalt failed to obtain a licence, but continued to play music. Playing this music without a licence from the copyright owner is copyright infringement.

Accordingly, APRA has obtained a High Court judgment against Rocksalt. It has been ordered to pay $4,600 in missed licence fees, and $18,000 in penalty for its flagrant infringement in failing to respond to APRA's repeated requests that it take a licence. It will also need to pay some of APRA's costs in taking the case.

As the judge said, Rocksalt (or any other business in a similar position) would do better to pay the licence fee next time.

Steep price to pay


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Recently a court in Shenzen, China, awarded damages to the tech giant Tencent as a result of a finding of copyright infringement – the work in question was written by Dreamwriter, an automated news-writing system developed by Tencent.

However, as AI applications become more autonomous, and make creative decisions with minimal human input, a question arises as to whether this is the right outcome. 

Our Copyright Act is currently under review and one of the questions MBIE has posed relates to whether the current rules relating to computer generated works are still fit for purpose and whether any changes are required. The first round of submissions are now closed, but watch this space if you would like to keep up to date on where we land on this issue.       

If you have any questions relating to adoption or use of AI technology, please get in touch.

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