A PUB landlord was yesterday banned from playing music in public by a High Court judge.

Steven Murray, owner of the Falchion, in Darlington, was ordered not to play music there, or at any other premises, until he obtains a licence from Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL), which collects royalties for record companies and performers.

He could face a jail term of up to two years or a fine of up to £10,000 for contempt of court if he breaches the order.

The injunction bans him from playing in public any records, tapes or CDs in PPL's repertoire, which covers 97 per cent of all music.

Mr Justice Blackburne also ordered Mr Murray to pay PPL's legal costs of £1,087 within 14 days.

Mark Chacksfield, for PPL, told the court that an inspector visited the pub, in Blackwellgate, in March, and heard tracks being played from the compilation Club Mix 2004.

Mr Murray, who also owns two restaurants, was not in court for the verdict and was not represented. But last night he told The Northern Echo he did hold a licence and planned to appeal against the decision.

"We hold, as far as we are concerned, the correct licence," he said. "We are covered until June 2005. We know nothing about the action that has been taken and have not been issued with any summons or notifications.

"I can't understand this and will be taking legal advice. We operate inside the law."

A PPL spokeswoman said: "He didn't have a PPL licence and a claim was brought against him. A High Court judge wouldn't issue an injunction unless he was satisfied that proceedings had been issued correctly."

A PPL licence for background music costs about £80 a year.