Qatar Airways in copyright dispute with Performing Right Society

Copyright body Performing Right Society (PRS) who represents over 140,000 musicians, is seeking damages from Qatar Airways for using its members’ music on their planes without a licence.

The society who commenced proceedings against the airline giant in December 2019, have prevailed in their first hearing at the High Court in London on July 17th, after Qatar Airways tried to have the case thrown out on the grounds that it should be heard in Doha, Qatar instead of England.

By return, PRS argued that Qatar Airways has evaded licensing its music and refused to remunerate the PRS members for the music played during their in-flight services.  In his 25-page decision based on the principles known as the ‘Spiliada-test’, (Spiliada Maritime Corporation v Cansulex Ltd [1987] AC 460) Judge Colin Birss said “The case is really a global copyright dispute between a UK holder of those global rights and a Qatari user of the protected content who is using it all over the world”.

PRS have stated that they will continue with the case unless Qatar Airways agrees to take up the required license.


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