Performance-rights giant BMI and several other copyright-owners have sued the Maplewood outpost of the Jive & Wail for copyright infringement
In documents filed yesterday in U.S. District Court, multiple plaintiffs accused the Jive & Wail piano bar in Maplewood of nineteen instances of copyright infringement, "based upon Defendants' unauthorized public performance of musical compositions from the BMI repertoire."
Plaintiffs named in the suit (and the artists they represent, in parentheses) include MJ Publishing Trust d.b.a Mijac Music (Michael Jackson), Benny Bird Company, Inc. (Don McLean), E.O. Smith Music (Weezer's Rivers Cuomo), Moebetoblame Music (Red Hot Chili Peppers members John Frusciante, Anthony Kiedis and Chad Smith), Crooked Chimney Music (Sister Hazel) and Mix-A-Lot Publishing (Sir Mix-A-Lot).
The suit states that these plaintiffs "are the owners of the copyrights in the musical compositions which are the subject of this lawsuit." In other words, it's not the artists themselves filing the lawsuit -- BMI is doing that on their behalf.
As its website states, BMI "collects license fees on behalf of songwriters, composers and music publishers and distributes them as royalties to those members whose works have been performed." Bars and clubs are required to pay licensing fees to BMI, and its competitors ASCAP and SESAC, if they broadcast music in their establishments -- whether it's in the form of live musical performances, a jukebox or even the radio. (See also: "Same Ol' Song: Club owners owe royalties for music played on their premises," Chad Garrison, March 12, 2008.)
According to court records, BMI has sued just two other places in eastern Missouri since January 2009. The first suit, filed in April 2009 against Bar 101 on 4131 Union Road in St. Louis, ended with an undisclosed settlement six months later. The second, filed in November 2009 against K.T.'s West (407 Sonderen Street in O'Fallon), resulted in an $18,000 default judgment against the bar, plus roughly $2,000 in attorneys' fees.
Universal-Songs Of Polygram International, Inc., another plaintiff listed in the Jive & Wail suit, has been involved in two local cases in the last year:
* In November 2009, they sued the Ironton, Missouri-based radio station KYLS (96.5 FM), alleging copyright infringement. The suit was settled for an undisclosed amount in February 2010.
* in June, they were part of a suit against Twister's Iron Horse Saloon, 1045 Main Street, Imperial, Missouri, alleging four instances of copyright violations. The suit is still pending.
A to Z could find no record of ASCAP or SESAC suing any bars in the St. Louis area in federal court from 2009 to the present.
A message left for the Jive & Wail hasn't yet been returned.
With additional reporting help from Sarah Fenske