Music giant sues Kentucky strip club for playing songs by Paul Simon, others, without license
LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) -- A small Kentucky strip club is being sued by a titan in the recording industry for allegedly playing songs by Paul Simon, Amy Winehouse and others without paying a standard licensing fee.
Broadcast Music, Inc., based in New York, filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court on Friday claiming Divas Gentleman's Club in Lexington committed copyright infringement by playing Simon's song, "You can call me Al," among others.
Broadcast Music has been granted the rights to license the public performance of about 8.5 million copyrighted songs and distribute royalties to songwriters, according to the suit.
"If you are going to play copyrighted music, you have to have a license," said Liz Fischer, a spokeswoman for BMI. "Songwriters are entitled to be compensated for creative work."
Broadcast Music has sued hundreds of bars and restaurants across the country for playing BMI-licensed songs without a proper license.
Fischer said the lawsuits are a last resort and that BMI has been reaching out to Divas since 2008, speaking with the owner three times, to no avail.
She said a license for a place the size of Divas – with an occupancy of about 180 people – would cost about $2,000 a year.
The suit cites four examples of "willful copyright infringement," including "You can Call me Al," by Simon; "She’s Got Skillz," written by Tim O’Brien and Gary St. Clair; "Cold," written by Charles Edward Sload III and "Rehab," written by Amy Winehouse.
The copyright holders of the four songs are also named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
A message left Monday for Richard Bruggemann, an owner of Divas, was not returned. An attorney for Divas did not immediately return a phone message.
The suit claims the alleged copyright infringement has caused "great and incalculable damage" by continuing to provide unauthorized public performances of music without paying a licensing fee.
The lawsuit asks a judge to order Divas to be restrained from playing any copyrighted music and pay unspecified monetary damages and costs.
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