A DARWEN pub has been banned from playing music by a High Court judge.

John Barnes and James Brindle, owners of The Circus, Bolton Road, were brought before the court for playing music without a licence.

Mr Justice Pumfrey made a court order banning them from playing music until they bring their music licence up to date.

If they do not they face two years imprisonment or fines of up to £10,000 for contempt of court, the judge said.

The court had heard that Barnes and Brindle were caught playing music on the premises when they did not hold a Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL) licence.

The judge was told by Jessie Bowhill, counsel for PPL, that one of their inspectors called at the premises on December 2 and heard tracks including Hung Up' by Madonna, My Humps' by Black Eyed Peas, No Worries' by Simon Webbe, Too Lost In You' by Sugababes and Biology' by Girls Aloud.

The ban applies to all forms of recorded music such as records, tapes and CDs in PPL's repertoire, which covers 97 per cent of all music.

Music licences can cost hundreds or even thousands of pounds, depending on the size of the venue and the audiences involved.

Mr Justice Pumfrey also ordered that Barnes and Brindle, who were not present in court, should meet legal costs of £1,475 which must be paid within 14 days.

He said that solicitors had sent letters to the pub on October 11 and March 24 saying the playing in public of sound recordings without PPL's licence or permission constituted infringement of its copyright. The letter also invited them to acquire a licence, but following their failure to do so, PPL's solicitors issued a claim form on April 24 and, posted it by first class post to the premises on the same day.

The court heard it was therefore "deemed served" upon the defendants, under operation of the law, on April 26.

A spokesperson for PPL said: "Whenever you play a sound recording in public, there are two separate licence fees to be paid.

"PPL distributes its licence fees to record companies, recording artists and musicians, and the Performing Rights Society collects a separate licence fee which they distribute to composers and music publishers.

"A licence is required for any event except a family or domestic gathering, such as a wedding reception or birthday party. PPL sometimes waives fees for charity events."