Isn't it ironic – Time Warner, the owner of Warner Bros, which is known for being prolific in its battle against copyright infringement, is now in trouble in Spain for using the music of local artists in its theme park for six years without ever paying a licence fee.
The Supreme Court of Spain has ordered the Parque Warner Madrid resort theme park (co-owned by Time Warner and Parques Reunidos) to pay €321,450 ($358,651, £250,539) in damages for playing the music of Spanish artists on loudspeakers to park visitors between 2002 to 2008.
As the tunes were played in public areas across the park, including attractions, restaurants, retail outlets and transportation, the court ruled that the park had not gained permission from the artists and producers affected.
According to Spanish newspaper El Confidencial, Spanish music copyright holders have been seeking justice for the infringement since at least 2009. The Association of Management of Intellectual Rights (AGEDI) and the Association of Artists and Performers (AIE) filed a joint lawsuit demanding that Parque Warner pay licencing fees for all the music that had been paid in public at the park, as well as demanding that the park stop using all copyright music until the case was decided.
In May 2010, Madrid's Commercial Court Number 7 ruled in favour of the copyright holders, and on appeal the Provincial Court of Madrid also found in favour of AGEDI and AIE. Parque Warner continued to argue against the decision because it said that it should not have to pay a yearly rate for the music if the park was only open from March to November, eventually appealing to the Supreme Court.
Unfortunately for Parque Warner, the Supreme Court sided with the artists and rejected Parque Warner's claim that the compensation amount had been miscalculated, demanding that the park fairly compensate the artists and producers for using the music without authorisation in an "intense and continuous" manner.
In January, several copyright holders including Warner Bros, together with anti-piracy firm Rightscorp, agreed to settle a class action lawsuit brought against them in the US. This meant that the 2,059 people who received intimidating robo phone calls demanding copyright infringement payments are eligible to claim a portion of the $450,000 settlement.