M&J Tavern, a 71-year-old bar located in Bend, Oregon has been sued for music copyright infringement by Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI).
BMI is one of the five United States performing rights organizations. It is responsible for collecting license fees on behalf of music publishers, songwriters & composers and distributes them as royalties to those members whose works have been performed.
BMI represents more than 9,00,000 artists and 14 million songs. The lawsuit against the M&J Tavern alleges that they allowed the performance of six copyrighted songs one night in August 2016 and they didn’t obtain a license from BMI to play those songs.
According to Jodie Thomas, BMI’s executive director of corporate communications said that it is their job that the artists, composers etc. are paid for their work. She also said that her company doesn’t want to bankrupt M&J, but to get the bar licensed.
BMI filed the lawsuit in US District Court in Eugene seeking an unspecified amount of damages and costs according to Court’s documents. BMI’s license fee varies from $378 per year to thousands of dollars depending on the capacity of the venue and many other factors.
As a response to the lawsuit, Richard Whitmore, the owner of the bar claimed he had no idea that he was violating any laws. Because of the lawsuit all live music performances have been stopped, “We thought, just to be safe, we’ll just stop all music” said the owner. The result of the lawsuit is yet to be decided by the Court.