BMI Sues 12 Bars for Playing Songs Without Licensing

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Sonny and Cher, Kansas, Michael Jackson, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bono, Whitney Houston, Dolly Parton, The Beach Boys, Lil Wayne, Lady Gaga, Toby Keith, Jefferson Airplane, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Amy Winehouse, Weezer, The Rolling Stones, The Supremes, Bonnie Raitt, Otis Redding, Air Supply, Jimmy Buffett, Johnny Cash, Bob Seger and Fleetwood Mac: it would be difficult to find a playlist featuring songs from each of these artists on any one iPod, MP3 player, or—dare I say—mix tape. So what justifies mentioning these multi-generational music greats in the same breath?

Hint: it is not the Grammy’s. Unbeknownst to them (probably), the music from each of these artists/groups is aiding in the onslaught of severe financial and emotional stress of business owners all around the country. Any offensive lyrics aside, the issue lies with the powers that be. BMI—the music licensing company that owns the rights to the music—has filed lawsuits against 12 separate bars and restaurants in the United States. They claim that these locations have been playing their songs without having paid the proper licensing fees. These locations, many of which are small businesses, are subject to $150,000 in damages for each song that has been played.

Just as random as the mix of artists previously mentioned, the geographic location is scattered all over the continental U.S. void of any sort of reasonable pattern. Speculation is that BMI has been choosing them at random and would like to set an example to the rest of the beer and burger-serving establishments around the country.