The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) announced that it has filed 26 separate infringement actions against nightclubs, bars and restaurants in 17 states. In each of the cases filed, the business establishment publicly performed the copyrighted musical works of ASCAP's songwriter, composer and music publisher members without obtaining a license from ASCAP to do so.
ASCAP reached out to each of the establishments repeatedly over a significant period of time before taking legal action. In every instance, the establishment refused to obtain a license, but continued to perform ASCAP members' music without permission, resulting in the filing of the infringement actions.
ASCAP protects the rights of its members by licensing and distributing royalties for the non-dramatic public performances of their copyrighted works. Those licensed by ASCAP include any establishment or business that wants to perform copyrighted music publicly.
"ASCAP is simultaneously filing these 26 actions to create awareness among music users and the public that it is a Federal offense to perform copyrighted music without permission," says Vincent Candilora, senior vice president of licensing at ASCAP. "Taking legal action is always ASCAP's last step in a long process of contacting, informing and educating business establishments of their obligations under the Federal Copyright Law. With many of these cases, the process has been going on for over a year, so they have had plenty of time to do the right thing."
Any business using copyrighted music has the opportunity to obtain permission to do so lawfully, through acceptance of a license covering the use of more than 8.5 million copyrighted songs and compositions. Nearly 90 percent of the license fees ASCAP collects are paid as royalties directly to songwriters, composers and music publishers. The balance covers ASCAP's operating costs, which are among the lowest in the world for a performing rights organization, and the lowest by far in the U.S.