SOUTHINGTON — Blackstone Irish Pub and a music authors’ group are negotiating a settlement to end a lawsuit over copyright infringement.
The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers filed a suit in October against Blackstone, claiming the Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike pub played copyrighted music without buying a license.
ASCAP, a nonprofit, is one of several groups that represent music copyright holders.
While Blackstone’s lawyer, Tony Sheffy, filed a response to the lawsuit contesting many of its claims, he declined to comment further citing negotiations.
Cathy Nevins, a spokeswoman for ASCAP, also confirmed negotiations.
“We are in settlement discussions with the pub, but no agreement has yet been reached,” she said.
According to the group’s lawsuit, Blackstone played several songs by writers or artists represented by ASCAP. An ASCAP representative visited the bar last year and noted the songs, including House of Pain’s 1992 hit "Jump Around" and "Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)" by Silentó.
ASCAP’s lawsuit said the group has contacted the bar frequently, explaining the need to buy a license to play copyrighted songs. The license would cost about $4,000 annually.
Last month, bar co-owner Greg Maloney said he had been contacted by ASCAP, but that the group didn’t provide him with a list of songs covered by the group’s license. Maloney said he declined to buy the license without having a list of songs provided.
ASCAP and other music rights groups have a searchable database of songs on their websites.Heavy-handed?
Bar owners in the area have complained about the heavy-handed way the groups enforce copyright holdings. The former owner of the Waverly Inn in Cheshire, Kyle Cipully, said a lawsuit by Broadcast Music Inc. over licenses was a “nail in the coffin” of the restaurant and bar, which closed earlier this year.
ASCAP’s suit is seeking up to $30,000 in damages in addition to attorney fees and an end to unlicensed performances.
Maloney said if licenses become too expense, the bar will stop bringing live bands to play hits. Maloney said his restaurant has a commercial Spotify account, allowing it to stream licensed music. Any songs played over the PA system would be from the Spotify account and properly licensed, he said.
One of the songs listed in ASCAP’s lawsuit was played over the PA system. Others were played by live bands.