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Karaoke Copyright Violation, the BMI ‘Gets Down’ to Business
January 30, 2014
Amanda Marie
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Stacey Jane’s, a popular karaoke bar in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, has been found guilty of copyright infringement for not obtaining proper licenses for their patron ‘sing-a-long’ songs. Last Friday a federal judge ruled that each of the seven violations will cost the owner $2,500 plus attorney fees, resulting in over $17,500 in damages. Last October 12th, the BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.) caught patrons in the act of “performing” and filed suit against the establishment in February of 2013, citing seven different songs in the lawsuit for which there were no proper licenses. Some of the copyrighted songs performed were "Proud Mary," "Born To Be Wild," "Me and Bobby McGee," "Monster Mash" and "Get Down Tonight."

According to Seacoast, the BMI claimed it notified Stacey Jane's repeatedly, 36 times between July 2010 and November 2012, that it needed to obtain permission for public performances of its copyrighted music. BMI, which represents artists, says it aggressively enforces copyright infringement in bars and clubs,

Charles Hughes, the owner of Stacey Jane’s, refused to enter into a license agreement with the BMI and rather than pay the fee, they claimed Hughes tried to get out of the lawsuit by forming a new company with a new name, at the same physical address as Stacey Jane’s. The new company did obtain a license agreement with BMI in September of 2013.

With so much focus placed on music copyright, it’s very reassuring to know that anyone, anywhere, can sing ”Happy Birthday” without worrying, as it’s almost certainly no longer under copyright.

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