Springsteen sues local bar owner for copyright infringement

Pavlos

Senior Member
Bruce Springsteen is taking legal action against the owners of a New York bar who allegedly failed to obtain permission to play The Boss' songs.

The "Born to Run" rocker filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Connolly's Pub & Restaurant on Wednesday, claiming the venue's bosses charged customers a fee to hear a band perform three of Springsteen's tracks in August 2008.
http://music.msn.com/music/article.aspx?news=456503&GT1=28102

This is obivously not about money for the Boss, but about the bar not paying ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers). Interesting case.

Has anyone known whether bars they play at pay the proper fees to ASCAP if you're playing covers? I never even knew about this before I read this article.

How do you all feel about this? Should we as performers be questioning the bar owners when we play covers? Is it our responsibility or theirs?
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Many (although not all) clubs/bars pay an annual licensing fee to ASCAP to cover themselves from such liability.

It's not exactly a new thing.

I remember when my band was on the verge of getting signed 12-14 years ago, (which never fully went through) we all went down to ASCAP to get the paper work rolling to cover ourselves, and ASCAP gave us a list of clubs in the immediate area who had valid ASCAP licenses.
 
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TFITTING942

Guest
Strange he even knew about the 3 songs being played. I wonder if this fee is paid by every bar in the country or is it a NY thing? I can't imagine all the bars I played in over the years were paying it. I doubt half of them had liquor licenses. I certainly agree with money being paid to any and all artists that deserve it but I would hate to see live music disappear because of a fee bar owners refuse to pay up.
 

Strangelove

Gold Member
The "Born to Run" rocker filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Connolly's Pub & Restaurant on Wednesday, claiming the venue's bosses charged customers a fee to hear a band perform three of Springsteen's tracks in August 2008.

I wonder if this is the crux of the biscuit. IOW, the issue is the club charging the patrons and Springsteen not liking that, not necessarily whether they were paying ASCAP or not.
 
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Pavlos

Senior Member
Not sure this is about the bar charging or not. This is from further down in the article I linked to above.

The ASCAP Senior Vice President For Licensing, Vincent Candilora, explains, "It's not about him as a recording artist. In this instance, he's simply a songwriter with rights.
"We had been after them (Connolly's) for complying for over two years, so it's not so much about who or where. Why should those places that are complying with the law be at a competitive disadvantage?"
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
He is the third or fourth person I have heard doing this in the last few months. I'll have to look back to refresh my memory. Taylor Swift was the latest.
 

Eric

Senior Member
Bars are responsible for paying ascap to have live music. I know some of the smaller jazz clubs back in the day would try to circumvent this by having the bands play only originals or change the heads of common jazz standards (since chord changes are not copywrighted.)
 

mcbike

Silver Member
most bars you play at will have a ascap sticker in the window by the front entrance. I know alot of companies like grocery stores and malls use a satellite music service that pays the royalties for them. alot of bars have gone to those digital juke boxes which also pay the royalties.

Alot of venues don't pay the ascap fees, there are only so many "inspectors" so they can't hit up every venue so venues risk it.
 
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nhzoso

Guest
WOW that suxx. I guess it's his right but just seems petty to me especially when you have made hundreds of millions of dollars in your life. Why not have someone who makes $60k pay a fee for having live music.

If They keep enforcing this it will only be a matter of time before every club does away with live bands and you have DJ'd everywhere..

I know it's just not Springsteen but how much friggin money do you need man? How much is enough? I am sure Bruce never covered others material when he was starting out right? Why you would let this ascap use your name for this greed is beyond me and I will never understand it.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I think technically DJ's need to play under the same rules. They are playing music for money so they have to ante up. My local pub pays the ASCAP dues for a juke box and for the local entertainers to play there. I ue to manage a bowling center and we were not allowed to play commercial radio over the PA system for the same rules.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
WOW that suxx. I guess it's his right but just seems petty to me especially when you have made hundreds of millions of dollars in your life. Why not have someone who makes $60k pay a fee for having live music.

If They keep enforcing this it will only be a matter of time before every club does away with live bands and you have DJ'd everywhere..

I know it's just not Springsteen but how much friggin money do you need man? How much is enough? I am sure Bruce never covered others material when he was starting out right? Why you would let this ascap use your name for this greed is beyond me and I will never understand it.
This rule has been being enforced since the 1920's.

Really, this is nothing new.

Try researching publishing royalties and the rules about such before jumping to conclusions about greed.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Well, apparently the Boss isn't sueing the bar, ASCAP is. Springsteen now wants his name taken off the lawsuit as a plaintiff. It looks like ASCAP may have been using his name as a way to gain greater publicity or legitimacy for the lawsuit without his knowing.

http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2010/02/04/entertainment-us-springsteen-copyright-suit_7332269.html
I thought it was pretty obvious ASCAP was doing the suing, not Springsteen.

On one hand, yes, they should have contacted him, because they clearly used his name to get some weight behind the suit, on the the other hand, if he has a contract with ASCAP to collect his royalties on his behalf (which every published song writer has such a deal with either ASCAP or BMI), then they were suing for his benefit, among others.
 

Pavlos

Senior Member
I thought it was pretty obvious ASCAP was doing the suing, not Springsteen.
Not from the first article I read and posted which clearly stated Bruce was the one that brought the lawsuit. Looks like a case of muddled journalism or ASCAP using his name without his permission (not really sure.)

That's why I posted the followup article. My thread title is now misleading. Can I edit my thread title?
 
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nhzoso

Guest
This rule has been being enforced since the 1920's.

Really, this is nothing new.

Try researching publishing royalties and the rules about such before jumping to conclusions about greed.

Fair enough but I was referring to the Boss being greedy, I really do not know much about ascap, and lo and behold they are using his name without his permission. I guess they can break the rules as long as No one breaks theirs? What do they do? Do they pay royalties to the performer? If so how do they know who to pay it too?
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
This a great news - should be more of it.

Maybe then we'll hear more music from unrecorded independent artists who can offer their wares for free.
 

con struct

Platinum Member
From today's New York TImes:

February 4, 2010, 4:09 pm
Springsteen Says He Is Not Suing a New York Bar
By BEN SISARIO

Bruce Springsteen wants to make something clear: he is not suing any bars where bands might be playing his songs.

In response to reports saying that he and ASCAP, the royalty collection agency, had sued Connolly’s Pub & Restaurant in Midtown Manhattan for copyright infringement because it did not pay licensing fees, Mr. Springsteen’s publicity firm said in a statement that ASCAP had filed the suit without his involvement or permission. “ASCAP was solely responsible for naming Bruce Springsteen as a plaintiff in the lawsuit,” the statement said. “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.”

According to the suit, the bar, on West 45th Street near Times Square, did not pay fees for public performances of two Springsteen songs when a band played there in August 2008. A spokesman for ASCAP declined to comment in response to the Springsteen statement.
 

oops

Silver Member
Fair enough but I was referring to the Boss being greedy, I really do not know much about ascap, and lo and behold they are using his name without his permission. I guess they can break the rules as long as No one breaks theirs? What do they do? Do they pay royalties to the performer? If so how do they know who to pay it too?
I don't think you really understand the situation. The way it works in Australia is APRA (Australian equivalent of ASCAP) sells licenses to live music venues to allow them to have live performances on their premises. These live venues or the performers who perform at them will submit a record of when they played and what tunes they played.

APRA then compiles a list of who performed when and where and what tunes they performed, they then divided the licensing fees the venue payed at the beginning out to the songwriters, based on how many tunes where performed, and where and when it occurred.

It's basically all fed into a computer.

It benefits the SONGWRITERS, not the venues, not APRA (ASCAP, which are generally non-profit organizations), and not necessarily the performers.

If i go out with my original band this year, play 15 shows, with a set list of tunes composed 100% by me I can look forward to getting a check of around $200 at the end of the year. (this is a rough estimate).

It's a shame that ASCAP didn't get Springsteen's permission for this particular venture, but bars should be paying licensing fees. In the long run, the fee really isn't that much, as far as I'm aware it's a couple hundred dollars.
 
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nhzoso

Guest
Well I doubt they are non-profit, sounds like they need to have some good high priced lawyers on retainer to enforce this. Which there is no way they can fully enforce it. I live in NH and I don't remember seeing anything ascap stickers anywhere, they probably only worry about it in big city major bars, which if you want to get into the big time I imagine you have to play these clubs anyway so why not start learning to pay your dues : )
 
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