Singer Tommy Fleming awarded damages over copyright breach

Aodhan O'Faolain


Aodhan O'Faolain


Tommy Fleming

Tommy Fleming

A High Court judge has found that singer Tommy Fleming suffered "a serious setback" following illegal broadcasts of his Voice of Hope DVD on an Irish television station and is entitled to damages.

The singer, his wife and manager Tina Mitchell Fleming and their company TF Productions were awarded a total of €150,000 damages against the broadcaster Irish TV which is currently in liquidation.

They had sued Irish TV after the station broadcast a promotional DVD sent out by the singer in relation to his 2004 recording "Voice of Hope" under the title the "Tommy Fleming Musical Extravaganza". The broadcasts occurred in December 2014.

In his judgment delivered today (Wednesday) Mr Justice Paul Gilligan said he was satisfied Mr Fleming and Mrs Fleming had suffered damage and loss due to the copyright infringement.

In particular Mr Fleming "has suffered a serious set back to his entertainment career," had been "undermined" and "the professional standard he has operated under has been damaged" by the unauthorised broadcasts by Irish TV.

The Judge said the Flemings were entitled to €100,000 by way of damages for "infringement of intellectual property rights of which they are the owners."

In addition their company T.F Productions was entitled to €50,000 damages as a contribution to the money it expended on minimising its losses.

The Judge also awarded the three plaintiffs their legal costs against the defendants.

Irish TV, which had operated from Westport Industrial Park in Co Mayo and broadcasted a 24-hour channel on Sky, Eir and free-to-air services, did not contest the application.

The court heard that the station had in correspondence before its liquidation said it believed it had permission to broadcast the show.

In his evidence to the court earlier this year Mr Fleming said the station never had his permission to broadcast the Voice of Hope.

He said he learned about the broadcast from a friend and said he would never have used the term Extravaganza in relation to his work. That word he said meant "circus."

He said he had been damaged because the Voice of Hope had been broadcast on a small channel with low ratings. This had damaged his ability to be featured on major broadcasters.

While Mr Fleming accepted that he his wife and their company may not get much out of any damages award against a firm in liquidation he said he had to proceed with his action because the case centered around what was their work.

In his judgment on Wednesday Mr Justice Gilligan said Mr Fleming is "a talented artist who has been well received publically" and "has had a successful career in the entertainment industry both in Ireland and abroad."

The Judge said he was mindful of the loss suffered by Mr Fleming, both within the state and on the singer's global platform due to the illegal broadcasts.

The Judge also noted that the plaintiffs had expended money on hiring extra staff, marketing and advertising to redress the drop in ticket sales caused by the defendant's breach.