Businessman spared from paying royalties for playing songs

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BAGUIO CITY  – A local businessman was spared from paying to a collection agent the amount of approximately P500,000 after the city’s Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 6 dismissed the charges of infringement of copyright filed by the Philippine Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, Inc. (PHILSCAP) against ANREY Inc. for lack of merit.

In a 9page decision, Judge Cecilia Corazon Dulay Archog ruled PHILSCAP failed to substantiate its claims of infringement of copyright against ANREY Inc. represented by its president Miguel “Carlos” Anton for playing various songs in the different outlets of Sizzling Plate through the radio.

Likewise, the court also declared that Anton’s counter claims against the organization have not been proven.

The case of infringement of copy right was filed by the PHILSCAP against Anton after its officers happened to eat in one of the outlets of Sizzling Plate and heard the various songs of the artists that they are handling being played inside the establishment through the radio. Subsequently, the organization started billing the establishment of royalties followed by the circulation of notices to the different food service establishments and hotels assessing them of royalties for playing songs in their establishments through the radio.

When Anton contested the said notices, the PHILSCAP, on September 8, 2009, filed the civil case of infringement of copy right against him before the local court and demanded the food establishment operator to pay royalties or license fees for the public performance of local and foreign copyrighted musical works as well as prayed for Anton to pay the group at least P300,000 in nominal damages, P18,900 as compensatory damages, P100,000 as exemplary damages and P50,000 as attorney’s fees and litigation expenses and cease and desist from publicly performing PHILSCAP musical works unless and until he secures a public performance license from the organization.

“The defendant (Anton) cannot be said to have infringed upon the copy right law. He is therefore not liable to plaintiff for any public performance license since the customers of his restaurant pay only for the food and drinks and apparently not for listening to the music. It was not shown that defendant’s customers patronized the restaurant because of the music being played over the radio. Defendant was not charging any admission fee in respect of such public performance, and it does not charge any additional cost to the customers for the music played in his restaurants,” the decision stressed.

The court also stated that Section 184(i) of Republic Act (RA) 8293 or the Copyright Law are the limitations on copyright which provide that the public performance or the communication to the public of a work, in a place where no admission fee is charged in respect of such public performance or communication, by a club or institution for charitable or educational purposes only, whose aim is not profit-making, subject to such other limitations as may be provided in the regulations.

“We just want to share the information to everyone so that they will not be continuously threatened to pay royalties to the group. WE were able to succeed in a hard fought battle over the past six years,” Anton stressed.

By Dexter A. See

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