The Boss isn't happy!
Last month we featured a story about Kid Rock and David Grohl suing Mallon’s Grill and Bar in Canton. More like ASCAP cashing in on a small fry and using the big dog’s name to get the sympathy vote. I digress. Well, the plot thickens. The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) named Bruce Springsteen the plaintiff in a copyright infringement lawsuit against a New York pub. ASCAP claims the establishment charged costumers a fee to hear a band that, innocently, performed three Springsteen cover songs.
And then The Boss fired back.
Springsteen immediately removed his name from the lawsuit. Springsteen’s website states, “Bruce Springsteen had no knowledge of this lawsuit, was not asked if he would participate as a named plaintiff, and would not have agreed to do so if he had been asked.” It’s ASCAP’s job to collect royalties and distribute the money to artists but is the organization going too far?
The ASCAP already has a shady reputation in the music industry, particularly for practices such as the Springsteen incident. Lately, the organization has taken their money grubbing to new levels in an attempt to maximize profits. ASCAP has declared war on small town taverns and nightclubs, who offer live music, in a manner that is only describable as vile. ASCAP’s first rounds of attack usually come from field agents who visit bars, restaurants and clubs that have live music or jukeboxes. If the business is found to be infringing on any kind of copyright, agents write letters demanding the owner shells out licensing fees. If the owner refuses then ASCAP sues for outrageous sums of money. And ASCAP always wins. As Mike Ritchie from the Carriage House puts it “Once those guys get a hold of you you’re done. This usually isn’t just a slap on the wrist and you’re back to work. You’re done”.
Copyright infringements are the result of any copyrighted music that is played including; live bands playing cover songs, jukeboxes, radio and open mics. Also, ASCAP is trying to reach it’s tentacles into ITunes and Ringtone services, the argument being that 30 second song previews and ring tones qualify as “performances” by artists. ASCAP claims that it is protecting the artists but at what cost to the industry?