Music Industry Filing Lawsuits Against Bars and Restaurants for Copyright Infringement

Due to the ever-increasing advances and efficiency over the past few decades in the way we share various forms of information, several royalty collection agencies, such as Broadcast Music Incorporated (“BMI”) and American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (“ASCAP”), have begun ratcheting up their efforts to protect the music industry from copyright infringement.  These efforts now, specifically, have focused upon several bars and restaurants that play music, albeit copyrighted material, as a way to provide a certain ambiance to their establishment and attract more business.

Generally speaking, bars and restaurants are expected to obtain performance licenses from these agencies which, in turn, permit them to play copyrighted works at their establishments for negotiated fees.  But with the recent uptick in karaoke nights, cover bands, hired DJs, and general free-play provided by bars and restaurants, the cost-benefit of cutting through the music industry’s red-tape when compared with the perceived low probability of getting caught has now led to several well-known and respected establishments receiving attorney letters and federal lawsuits due to their business oversight.

For example, just this past year, the Ninth Circuit denied the appeal of a judgment for nearly $200,000 in damages, attorneys’ fees, and costs against a Long-Beach, California restaurant, Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles, for alleged copyright infringement of various John Coltrane numbers, among others, where Roscoe’s allowed these songs to be played for its patrons.

While many bars and restaurant owners may think the time and costs associated with obtaining these licenses is not a business savvy investment in the short-run, not changing their practices may eventually force owners to invest larger sums in the long-run for legal fees and costs in defending lawsuits against agencies like BMI and ASCAP.


Chalker Flores, LLP provides intellectual property, business, corporate and litigation legal services of the highest quality.  Founded by Dr. Edwin Flores and Daniel Chalker, additional partners include Scott Meyer, Chainey Singleton and Tom Jacks.  The lawyers of Chalker Flores, LLP provide big-firm expertise with boutique service and pricing.  Clients include individual inventors, start-ups, spin-offs, major national universities, research institutes and medium to large corporations.

If you would like more information about Chalker Flores, LLP, or to schedule an appointment with one of the attorneys in Dallas or Fort Worth, please contact Tom Jacks at 214-866-0001 or email at  Please also follow us on Twitter @chalkerflores.

About Chalker Flores, LLP
The mission of the lawyers of Chalker Flores, LLP is to provide intellectual property, corporate, business and litigation legal services of the highest quality. Chalker Flores, LLP is able to offer its clients big-firm expertise with boutique service and pricing. Clients include individual inventors, major national universities and small to large companies and businesses.

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