Bar Was Fined for Pirated Karaoke Music
A number of music label affiliates in cooperation with the royalty collection agency called BMI have recently won a legal battle against the Texan hotel / bar Clarion Inn. The court decided that the establishment was hosting unauthorized karaoke events which featured music from Otis Redding, Willy Nelson and Johnny Cash. The court awarded copyright owners $45,000 in damages. This was just one of more than 80 lawsuits of such kind filed this year.Royalty collection outfits often go to extremes as they go about extorting money on behalf of performers and music composers. For instance, in the US alone, this has resulted in hundreds of lawsuits, mostly filed again pubs and bars playing music without a proper license. Back in 2012, over a hundred of these cases were launched and in 2013 there are already over 80.
Most of these cases are resolved with a settlement, with bars or restaurants paying a few thousand dollars to eliminate the problem. Nevertheless, sometime a judgement is entered, like in the recent case against the Texan hotel / bar Clarion Inn. The royalty collection outfit BMI and a number of copyright owners, including Sony and Universal, have filed a lawsuit against the bar for playing karaoke songs without a proper license, claiming to have suffered considerable damage and demanded compensation.
In response to the accusations, the bar didn’t argue that it offered karaoke to the visitors, but the bar manager testified she wasn’t aware of any wrongdoing of the karaoke provider, because they are usually independently licensed. So, the manager claimed she didn’t intentionally violate any copyrights, and if she knew the service was illegal, she would have not allowed the performance.
However, the court dismissed her testimony and innocent infringer defense and awarded a summary judgement in favour of the music industry. The judge also pointed out that the Clarion Inn had already been warned on numerous occasions before and therefore can’t be considered innocent infringers. The court ruling resulted in a permanent injunction against the bar – for the 15 infringements the judge awarded $45,000 in statutory damages to the copyright owners and over $10,000 for attorneys’ costs.