Southington bar to pay $17,000 as part of copyright lawsuit settlement

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SOUTHINGTON — Blackstone Irish Pub has agreed to pay $17,000 to a music licensing company as part of a copyright lawsuit settlement, according to court documents.

A group representing song copyright holders sued Blackstone owners Greg Maloney and Michael Miller last year, claiming the bar played songs such as House of Pain's 1992 hit 'Jump Around" and 'The Middle' by Jimmy Eat World without a license.

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers sued other bars and restaurants around the country last year on similar grounds. The group said it has tried to sell a license to play copyrighted music to Blackstone for years but has been rejected. An agent the group sent to the pub in 2018 reported the bar played five songs owned by ASCAP artists.

A license from ASCAP would cost the Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike bar about $4,000 annually.

Tony Sheffy, a Southington attorney representing the bar owners, said there had been an “amicable resolution of the claims being made.” He cited a non-disclosure agreement when asked whether Blackstone had purchased music rights licenses or was required to do so by the terms of the settlement.

“We were able to reach agreements regarding licensing and everybody’s pleased,” Sheffy said of the deal signed earlier this month.

In November, Maloney said the bar may have to end live music if the costs of ASCAP and other licenses were too high. He didn’t return a call and message for comment Monday.

Down the Hatch, a cover band, is scheduled to play at Blackstone this Saturday, according to the pub’s website. Other cover bands are in the lineup for March.

ASCAP representative Cathy Nevins also declined to comment on the details of the settlement Monday.

Music licenses

ASCAP has a searchable database listing the thousands of songs owned by member composers and songwriters. Other music rights companies have similar databases.

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” for the restaurant and bar, which closed last year.

BMI sued The Waverly Inn for playing songs such as "Maneater" by Hall and Oates on Pandora in the bar.

Jodie Thomas, executive director of media relations for BMI, said a bar would need permission from the copyright holder of a song if it's played by a live band, DJ, karaoke machine or a jukebox.

Tipping Chair Tavern owner Jeff Vitti said he pays between $4,000 and $5,000 a year for licenses with three different organizations, including ASCAP.

Music rights groups say lawsuits against bars and restaurants are a last resort after attempts to sell a license have failed.
Twitter: @JBuchananRJ

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