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Irish music rights group takes High Court action against Forest Fest music festival

IMRO claims the festival organisers failed to obtain a licence allowing certain musical works to be played.

THE BODY THAT administers the performing rights of copyrighted music in Ireland has launched High Court proceedings against the organisers of the Forest Fest music and arts festival due to take place in Co Laois next month.

The Irish Music Rights Organisation Company Ltd (IMRO) is seeking an injunction over an alleged failure by the organisers of the ‘Forest Fest’ festival to obtain a licence allowing certain musical works, the plaintiff says it holds the copyright of, to be performed.

This failure to obtain a licence in respect of the Forest Fest event, IMRO claims, amounts to a breach of its members copyright.

Forest Fest, the court heard, features a host of musicians, performers and DJs including Ash, The Undertones, The Divine Comedy, EMF, The Cult, the Human League, Something Happens, the Stunning, Stereo MCs, Paul Brady and Tony Hadley.

IMRO claims that it believes that several dozen musical works which it holds copyright over on behalf of it members will be played during the three day event.

The organisers IMRO alleges have not obtained a required licence from it which would allow those works to be performed at the 2024 event.

As a result IMRO has launched proceedings against Philip Meagher and ForrestFest Limited both of Fitzmaurice House, Bank Place, Portlaoise, Co Laois.

IMRO says Meagher, a practising solicitor, is a director and owner of the company.

Both are involved in the organisation and the promotion of the event which is taking place at Emo, Co Laois between 19 and 21 July.

In its proceedings, IMRO seeks an injunction restraining the defendants and anyone who has notice of the order, from performing, playing or broadcasting musical works which IMRO says it owns the copyright to at the event.

If granted the injunction would remain in place pending the outcome of the dispute.

Represented by Stephen O’Connor Bl, IMRO claims that unless the defendants are restrained by the court from playing the copyrighted material unless the organisers obtain a licence, the plaintiff’s rights will be substantially breached.

The court heard that the parties had corresponded with others regarding IMRO’s claims to the defendants that a licence from the plaintiff in regards to music it owns is required.

However no agreement to either enter a licence agreement, nor an undertaking not to play the copyrighted material has been entered into, the court also heard.

IMRO estimates that it is owed €193,000 in royalties in respect of the 2022, 2023 and pending 2024 events by the organisers.

The matter came before Mr Justice Mark Sanfey today, who granted IMRO permission to have the injunction application listed before the court next week.

The judge noted that IMRO did not take any similar steps before the courts when previous events organised by the defendants took place in 2022 and 2023.

While today’s application was made on an ex-parte basis the judge said he wanted to impress on both sides that steps should be taken to ensure the hearing of the injunction application well in advance of the event taking place.

Aodhan O Faolain