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January 26, 2005

The ASCAP Goon Squad (WuzzaDem)

"Fork over the royalties, kid!"

Via Drudge:

Wolfy’s, a lower Broadway restaurant and bar, was sued by the performing rights organization ASCAP Monday for failing to pay royalties for music played in the nightclub over the past several years.

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Nashville after attempting for several years to collect payment from Wolfy’s, said Vincent Candilora, ASCAP’s Nashville-based senior vice president of licensing.

This is my favorite quote:
“We went in there literally 10, 15 times, and they keep just kind of thumbing their nose at us. This is what will happen eventually,” Candilora said.

Is it just me, or does this sound like the music industry's own goon squad?

"Hey, I'm jus' sayin'; sumthin' could happen if youse ain't careful."

More from the article:

The suits allege that the establishments have publicly performed the copyrighted musical works of ASCAP’s member songwriters, composers and music publishers without permission.

I guess that sounds reasonable. So who are they suing? This past weekend I heard the owner of a small dry cleaner calling in to one of those 'free legal advice' radio shows. He said that ASCAP representatives had visited his small, family-owned business three times in the past two weeks to inform him that he was going to have to start paying them, because he plays CDs in the background while his business is open, so, technically, he is 'using the artists' works as entertainment for his clients'.

Does he have a dance floor in the pick-up area?
Is he hosting 'Karaoke Tuesdays'?
Do people come in to hear the bitchin' tunes blasting from giant speakers?
No - it's a dry cleaner.

And here are some of the other businesses currently being sued by ASCAP:

The Back Porch
Joe's Cafe
Hundred South Grille
Buffalo Billiards
American Sports Cafe
Buffalo Tap & Grille
Soulard Ale House
Scuttlebutts Restaurant and Bar
Joe's Cafe? Scuttlebutts Restaurant? Buffalo Billiards? What about Granny's Yarn Barn? Haven't they nailed Elmer's Feed and Grain yet?

The attorneys from that call-in show told the dry cleaner that they didn't think he could successfully fight ASCAP. They're probably right. According to this article (again via Drudge):

During 2004, ASCAP achieved a 100% success rate with its copyright infringement litigation, with all concluded cases resulting in either a cash settlement or a judgment in favor of ASCAP members.

For the music industry, this is a PR move on par with suing a five-year-old for illegally downloading Sesame Street's greatest hits.

Maybe Nickie Goomba could have a little talk wit' dese ASCAP guys. Hey, I'm jus' sayin'

Posted by John from WuzzaDem

Update: Ted, the owner of Buffalo Billiards, wrote me to say that he has no other choice but to play CDs in his establishment. According to Ted:

The radio reception in there sucks, and my ex-wife trashed the jukebox because she was sick of people playing "Werewolves of London" just so they could do their impression of Tom Cruise in "The Color of Money."

I feel your pain, Ted. I feel your pain.

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posted by Ace at 08:21 PM

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