A Brea, CA restaurant/bar was sued for copyright infringement in Federal District Court in Los Angeles by copyright attorneys for several recording companies for publicly playing copyrighted music at the restaurant without a license from ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC. The complaint alleges that on January 11, 2008, presumably when their investigator was at Bar 330 in Brea, the three copyrighted musical compositions were publicly played and performed. Plaintiffs assert that the Brea Bar 330 will continue to publicly play and perform these songs unless they are enjoined by the Court.
The complaint alleges that ASCAP, on behalf of the copyright owners, warned the defendants that a copyright license was needed in order to publicly perform the copyrighted music at the restaurant/bar. The defendants, however, allegedly refused to pay for the license and continued to play the songs at issue. Plaintiffs request statutory damages under 17 U.S.C. § 504(c)(1), of not more than $ 30,000.00 and not less than $ 750.00 for each copyrighted song. Plaintiffs also request that the court order the defendants to pay the costs of the lawsuit and reasonable attorneys’ fees pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 505. The case is titled: WB Music Corp., v. Corner Pockets, Inc. , CV08-01955 SVW (C.D. Cal. 2008).
PRACTICE NOTE: 17 U.S.C. 504(c)(2) provides an increase in the statutory damages to $150,000.00 per infringement if it is deemed to be intentional. Also, if a restaurant or public establishment unreasonably believed that it was exempt from licensing requirements under 17 U.S.C. § 110(5), the copyright plaintiff, in addition to other damages under section 504, will be entitled to two times the license fee which it should have paid for the preceding period of up to 3 years. Because of the varying affiliations between record companies and the licensing society, a license from each of the following licensing societies must be obtained to cover the music owned by the various recording companies:
ASCAP: 1-800-505-4052 BMI: 1-800-925-8451 SESAC: 1-800-826-9996