BMI Says Club Is Too Sexy For Standard Fees, Voids Check, Sues For Non-Payment
from the 'irreparable-damage'?-if-only dept
Broadcast Music, Inc., the music licensing group, is suing the Lady Godiva's nightclub and its owner, Mark London, claiming the club has violated copyrights. BMI filed a lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids, alleging the club played songs by artists Rivers Cuomo ("Say It Ain't So"), R. Kelly ("Ignition") and Amy Winehouse ("You Know I'm No Good") without paying the proper music license fees. The suit claims the songs were played at the club -- without BMI permission -- on September 27, 2010.As has been shown before, BMI needs nothing more than a few songs to build a claim against a business and it got the songs it needed. The filing (embedded below) is light on details but runs long on hyperbolic doomsaying. It would appear from BMI's own wording that unless Lady Godiva's rogue actions are stopped, the very future of performance rights groups is in peril. Check these out (page 4):
The specific acts of copyright infringement alleged, as well as the Defendant's entire course of conduct, have caused and are causing Plaintiffs great and incalculable damage.Holy hell! A single nightclub in Grand Rapids, MI (Pop. 188,040) has broken BMI's calculator with its alleged course of conduct! Somebody needs to stop Godiva before its kills/breaks math again! But who?
Unless this Court restrains Defendants from committing further acts of copyright infringement, Plaintiffs will suffer irreparable injury for which they have no adequate remedy at law.It's worse than I thought! BMI will have to go on the Injured Reserve List! For life! How many among us have carelessly "infringed copyrights" without thinking of the little people, like BMI, ASCAP and so many other battered acronyms? Who will nurse their "irreparable" wounds? Will BMI have to resort to vigilante justice to collect its fees? Is that the way we really want it? Limping performance rights organizations operating outside the law? I submit to you that we do not.
But that's only half the story (and what a half it is...) According to Lady Godiva's owner, Mark London, attempts were made to pay the licensing fees, but BMI tried to change the agreement.
London tells WZZM 13 News that BMI is seeking to have him sign a licensing agreement registering his club as an adult entertainment business, which he says it is not. He says that while his club does feature women dancing it is not a topless venue, as a 2006 Grand Rapids city ordinance no longer allows nudity.So, suddenly, "enough" just isn't enough for BMI. It wants more and it isn't shy about dragging a business into court until it's happy with the dollar amount. Understandably, BMI's filing says nothing about this dispute over categorization and relies solely on the testimony of three well-known tunes. This is a pretty thin filing for BMI, which probably explains the overwrought language.
London says he is in good standing with ASCAP and other licensing agencies. But when he sent checks to BMI to pay for music rights, London says the group voided the payments.
BMI may have an incredible success rate with its lawsuits but trying to convince a judge that a business that could not possibly be an adult entertainment business is, in fact, an adult entertainment business is going to be a pretty tough sell, no matter how much supposed ongoing "irreparable damage" is involved.