Wednesday 21 February 2018

Singer Tommy Fleming sues tv channel 'after €250k loss' in copyright case

Tommy and Tina Fleming
Tommy and Tina Fleming

Aodhan O'Faolain

SINGER Tommy Fleming has told the High Court his career suffered after a television company broadcast his bestselling DVD 'Voice of Hope' without his permission.

Mr Fleming is seeking damages against Telifis Mhaigh Eo Teoranta, trading as "Irish TV", which went into liquidation last December, for breach of his copyright. 

The company, which had operated from Westport Industrial Park in Co Mayo and broadcast a 24-hour channel on Sky, Eir and free-to-air services, did not contest the application.

The case arose after the station broadcast a promotional DVD sent out by the singer in relation to his 2004 recording  "Voice of Hope" under the title the "Tommy Fleming Musical Extravaganza".

The broadcasts occurred in December 2014.  The court heard the station, in correspondence before its liquidation, said it believed it had permission to broadcast the show.

Mr Fleming told the court on Wednesday his career had been damaged by the broadcast. 

In reply to his counsel, Helen Johnson, the singer said the station,  whose launch he attended, never had his permission.

He learned about the broadcast from a friend.

He said he would never have used the term Extravaganza in relation to his work. That word he said meant "circus."

While he accepted he, his wife, and their company may not get much out of any damages award against  a firm as it is in liquidation, he said he had to proceed with his action because the  case centered around what was their work. 

The singer's manager and wife, Tina Mitchell Fleming, told the court that the singer has had to spend a lot more money on promotions and advertising since the the broadcast.

There had also been a drop in sales of the 'Voice of Hope' which, she said, had cost them €250,000.

She said that the damage occurred because the Voice of Hope had been broadcast on a small channel with low ratings. This had damaged his ability  to get onto TV programmes on major broadcasters.

Ratings were very important in the industry, she said.

Before the Irish TV broadcast, they had been in talks with SkyArts, but after the broadcast, those talks had ended.

Since the broadcast, Tommy had only made one appearance on RTE's the Late Late Show, whereas beforehand he had appeared on the national broadcaster on average twice a year, she said.

She also said that because Irish TV had connections with US broadcaster, PBS, her husband had to pay that channel if they wanted to get his material on its channels.  That had never been the case beforehand.

She said after the broadcast, Tommy had for the first time in his career made a loss when he toured North America.

Last December, the Flemings and their company, TF Productions Ltd, obtained an injunction against Teilifís Mhaigh Eo.

The injunction restrained Irish TV from passing off the "Voice of Hope" DVD under the title "Tommy Fleming Musical Extravaganza" of by any similar trademark.

It further restrained Irish TV from making the DVD available to the pubic without authorisation or broadcasting it in breach of Mr Fleming's copyright.

In their application, the Flemings seek to make the injunction a permanent one.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan,following the conclusion of submissions, said he would give his decision in a few days time.

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