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Vince Power banned from promoting events until PRS dispute resolved

By | Published on Friday 1 August 2014

Vince Power

Veteran festival promoter Vince Power has been banned from staging live events in the UK until he settles a dispute with collecting society PRS For Music over royalties owing on the old Hop Farm festival.

According to the BBC, editions of the Hop Farm music event from 2009-2012 went ahead without a licence from PRS, which covers the copyright fees that are due for the performance of songs in the public domain. Such royalties must be paid even when artists perform their owns songs, because if said artists join PRS they give up the right to directly licence any of their songs for public performance, so promoters can’t circumvent the collecting society.

Quite how so many editions of an event as high profile as the Hop Farm festival could go ahead without a PRS licence isn’t clear, though it’s possible legal wrangling has been quietly going on in the background for a while.

Of course, after launching the Hop Farm festival, Power spun his new live music ventures into Music Festivals plc, which subsequently went under, arguably taking any liabilities from the festival with it.

But it seems that, having completely failed to secure a PRS licence – rather than just letting bills lapse before Music Festivals plc collapsed – the collecting society wants Power himself held liable. It argues that the promoter was the “guiding will and mind” of the event and the company which produced it.

The judge hearing the case ruled in favour of PRS by default because Power failed to submit a defence. It’s therefore not clear if, had he fought the case, the promoter could have argued against the “guiding will and mind” line, and passed the PRS liabilities onto his now defunct former company.

Under the new court order Power must now settle with PRS, and pay the society’s legal fees, before staging any further events in the UK. Failure to do so would constitute contempt of court, which could result in fines or even a prison sentence.

Power, of course, was originally planning to stage another Hop Farm festival this year, last year’s edition having been called off. Though a former business partner has set up a rival event at the same site and with the same name, and it now looks likely Power won’t be competing with his own Hop Farm branded show.