Chicago Pizzeria Hit With Copyright Infringement Suit Over Karaoke

copyright infringement, Naperville business law attorneyIf you own a business that manufactures or distributes physical goods, it is relatively easy to be sure that you are being compensated by anyone wishing to own or use your products. Other companies, of course, do not have the right to duplicate your proprietary products, but, in most cases, customers must purchase them directly from you. When the product, however, is a published literary, musical, or other work, receiving proper compensation is not quite so easy.

As a business law attorney, I understand the importance of protecting intellectual property, and I have helped many clients register trademarks and copyrights to appropriately restrict the uncompensated use of such property. If someone else is profiting from your intellectual property without obtaining the proper rights, I can help you take action, as needed, with a copyright infringement lawsuit. A copyright infringement lawsuit is a very serious matter, as a Wicker Park pizzeria is in the process of learning.

Local Establishment, Federal Suit

Laws regarding copyright infringement are made and enforced at the federal level, which means that any related lawsuit must be filed in federal court. Earlier this year, Broadcast Music, Inc., commonly known as BMI, filed suit against a Chicago brewery and pizzeria, claiming the restaurant played copyrighted material without paying for an appropriate license and seeking nearly $4,000 in lost fees. BMI is joined by the publishing companies for three major musical acts, whose works are specifically cited in the suit.

According to the suit, the pizzeria hosts karaoke, and patrons are invited to perform their renditions of popular songs backed by a live band. Licensing fees for the performance of live music can cost $300 or more annually, depending upon the size of the establishment, the music format, and how often copyrighted works are played. BMI says that it has reached out to the Wicker Park restaurant and its ownership more than 70 times in the last two years, including sending Cease and Desist letters. When the owners, did not respond, BMI sent a representative to the pizzeria in August of 2015. The representative observed performances of at least three songs from the BMI catalog, including Willie Nelson’s “Crazy,” Weezer’s “Say It Ain’t So,” and “Give It Away,” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Musical Side Note

Without regard to the substance of the pending copyright infringement suit, there is a somewhat interesting twist to the situation. It seems that at least one of the pizzeria’s co-owners should have a vested interest in adhering to copyright licensing laws. The establishment is co-owned by Rick Nielsen, guitar player and songwriter for Cheap Trick, a Rockford-based band best known for singles like “Surrender” and “I Want You to Want Me.” Nielsen has not been named individually in the suit.

Whether you are looking to legally obtain the rights to use copyrighted material or are looking to protect your own published works, contact an experienced Naperville business law attorney. At The Gierach Law Firm, we know that copyright infringement is a major concern and we will work hard to help you achieve your business objectives while remaining compliance with the law.



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