Wait, I needed a license for that?

Now in Chicago news….               

Did you know? Dunlap Codding has had a Chicago office for over a year now.  So, let’s talk local Chicago IP news. 

Last week, "Piece," a pizza restaurant and bar in a popular Chicago neighborhood was sued by BMI and Sony/ATV Tree Publishing for copyright infringement for performing certain songs during its live-band karaoke.  The owner was also individually named in the lawsuit.  The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.  The artists whose songs were performed without consent and without a license agreement include at least the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Weezer, and Willie Nelson. 

The restaurant advertises that it has live-band karaoke on Saturday nights, and the guests of the establishment may sing songs with a back-up band consisting of a guitarist, drummer, and bass player. 

According to the complaint, starting in 2014 BMI attempted to inform the Defendants over 70 times of the Defendants’ obligation to obtain a license for the public performance of musical compositions as required under the Copyright Act.  The Defendants did not cease their activities in response to those communications.  Thus, a lawsuit has been filed, which includes claims of willful copyright infringement. 

The Plaintiffs seek statutory damages and an injunction to prevent the Defendants from infringing the copyrighted musical compositions. Statutory damages in copyright cases can be anywhere from $750 to no more than $30,000 per copyrighted work.  Where the copyright owner meets its burden of proof, and the court determines the infringement was committed willfully, that amount can increase to a sum not more than $150,000 per work. 

These types of lawsuits are not rare, and there have been other similar suits filed in Chicago, and throughout the country for copyright infringement stemming from live-band karaoke, regular karaoke, live music performances, and the playing of recorded music in various dining and drinking establishments.  In addition to BMI, there are two other major licensors who require license agreements: The American Society for Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and SESAC. 

You can find more information on this lawsuit in the complaint

 

Image courtesy pixabay.com.

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