Can Someone Explain The Irreparable Injury Of Playing Classic Jazz Tunes In A Restaurant?

from the it's-called-promotion dept

Steve Bryant passes on the news that Guiseppe's Italian Restaurant in Washington is facing a lawsuit over playing some popular jazz tunes in the restaurant without paying the ASCAP fees. This sort of thing happens all the time, and the language used by the lawyers is probably pretty standard. However, it is amusing: "The said wrongful acts of the Defendants have caused and are causing great injury to the Plaintiffs, which damage cannot be accurately computed, and unless the Court restrains the Defendants from the further commission of said acts, said Plaintiffs will suffer irreperable (sic) injury." I'd like to see the lawyers explain how playing a song in a restaurant is likely to cause "irreparable injury" (whether or not it's spelled correctly). It's also hard to believe that the "damages" cannot be accurately computed. They're likely to be close to zero. I'd think that, especially with these kinds of songs, the much more likely story is that playing an old classic is actually more likely to act as a promotion, encouraging people to go out and purchase the music in question. However, we have to remember that in the view of the entertainment industry these days, there's no such thing as promotional value to content. Still, perhaps the restaurant should ask the record labels suing them to pay them for promoting their back catalog.
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  1. identicon
    Someone who cares, 18 Jan 2007 @ 1:44pm

    Re: fair use

    All in all I see a few points missing here.

    If the restaurant purchased a CD then the Restuarant Corp/LLC (whatever entity it is) actually own the license to use it. So how can the restaurant owner be sued? Shouldn't they be suing the restaurant. Symantics, I know, but an important distiction in ownership nonetheless.

    Secondly,
    I think it's fair to assume that the owner of the restaurant hired a band to play music. Shouldn't the band be sued? The band is the one making a profit off the music, I assume the owner would not have hired teh band had they not been able to play specific music. So if the band says it can and will play a specific type, for a fee, isn't it then the responsibility of the band to secure rights to play the music? I'm pretty sure that's how it works when one musical artist wants to cover another's song.

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