Local Businesses Continue to Get Sued by PROs

Here’s a story coming out of New Jersey that describes the methods PROs employ to make examples of local business owners who didn’t pay music licensing fees. According to this USA Today article, BMI sought legal action against more than 160 businesses in 2014 for copyright violations. About a half dozen New Jersey bars and restaurants were sued for alleged infringements and one restaurant was forced to pay BMI $24,000 for playing four songs without a music license. 

Read More: BMI song lawsuits make rounds in Jersey bars

Shakedown Music Licensing Fees?

Here’s a report from New Hampshire of what happens when local bars and restaurants pull the plug on music because of music licensing fees. According to the report, a local bar owner in Hampton Beach, NH, was forced to pay $17,500 plus attorney fees to BMI after being sued for patrons singing karaoke songs in the venue. While it appears BMI ultimately succeeded in its lawsuit, local musicians are losing out because they don’t have a venue to perform music. According to a musician quoted in this article: “Middle class musicians are really hurt by BMI, ASCAP and SESAC royalties being so high for venues and restaurants and bars that aren't able to keep up and pay those dues."

Read more: Music licensing fees called a 'shakedown'

Spying on the Local Band

Are PROs hurting local musicians by spying on local bars and restaurants? This story from Philadelphia illustrates how far PROs are willing to go when collecting fees from establishments that play live music. According the report, BMI monitors social media and, as a last resort, will send employees out to various places to seek out establishments that host live local music for their customers. Musicians feel the impact, as these enforcement tactics create an uncomfortable atmosphere at local venues and has caused some bars to do away with playing live music.

Read more: The Day the Music…. Spied?