Sunday, September 03, 2006

110 Phone Calls and 44 Letters

This article about a club in Maine being sued by BMI describes a set of very common facts. Club publicly performs live and/or pre-recorded music without proper licenses from BMI/ASCAP/SESAC and is sued for copyright infringement. The other fact that I think it is important to note is that BMI had been communicating with the club and its lawyer well before the action was filed.

According to Bailey, BMI first contacted the Big Easy's owners, James and William O'Brien, in February 2000, and has since tried to reach them through 110 phone calls and 44 letters to them and to their lawyer, David Hirshon of Portland.

PROs don't sue without first trying, usually over a number of years, to get the club owner to secure a license. The club sued in the last PRO action I was involved with (on the defendant's side) had received at least 18 letters and numerous phone calls over the course of approximately seven years. In my opinion every municipality should have a PRO fact sheet that is given to a club owner when they pull permits for the club. Blanket licenses are fairly reasonably priced and should be built into the cost of doing business for all clubs. Just get the licenses and be done with it. Clubs do not win these suits, they settle and the clubs take a big financial hit that could have been easily avoided.

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