Sunday 21 January 2018

Owner of popular city night club told to pay over €14k in music royalties

Ray Managh

The owner of one of Ireland’s best known night clubs was given little joy today when a judge told him to face the music or go to jail.

Solicitor Robert Dore told the Circuit Civil Court that John Conway, owner of “Joys” in Lower Baggot Street, Dublin, was caught in a classic Catch 22 situation.

“Without the music to keep his night clubbers happy he cannot raise the funds to pay arrears of royalties demanded by the Irish Music Rights Organisation,” Mr Dore said.

“And if he defies an existing court order banning the playing of IMRO songs until he meets his debts then he faces immediate  imprisonment,” the solicitor added.

Barrister Una Cassidy, counsel for IMRO, told Judge Matthew Deery the court had already granted two judgments against Mr Conway who still owed royalties and licence fees totalling €14,236

She asked that Mr Conway be committed to prison for contempt of court.  He had been unlicensed since September 2012 and unpaid royalties, a new licence and court costs could yet top €25,000.

Ms Cassidy said Mr Conway had not co-operated in any way with IMRO, a non-profit making limited company which each year collects more than €32 million in royalties from pubs, clubs and other venues for distribution to songwriters, composers and music publishers who make up its 8,500 members in Ireland.

She said he had only met two royalties demands, forcing IMRO to obtain a court injunction restraining him from playing any songs that fell within the music organisation’s repertoire.  He had continued playing IMRO music in defiance of the court order.

Mr Dore said Mr Conway had experienced financial difficulties and was putting his hands up with regard to having breached the court order.

He said that  last week Mr Conway had paid off €5,000 of his IMRO debts.  He asked that the draconian threat of imprisonment be adjourned for another week to allow him try to regulate his affairs.

Mr Dore asked that, without having to give the court a sworn undertaking not to play music, Mr Conway be given another week.  He could not generate income if he could not play music. He had up to €14,500 set aside for the payment of another debt.

Judge Deery put the matter back on the basis Mr Conway pay €14,236 into court before 10 o’clock next Tuesday morning.  If he failed to do so there would be no alternative to attachment and committal to prison.

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