Bloomberg BNA’s Patent Trademark & Copyright Law Daily™is the IP industry’s premier news service, offering objective, timely,and reliable daily news coverage and commentary from leading IP law...
June 6 — A bar's owner “is vicariously liable for the pervasive copyright infringement at his restaurant” for his failure to secure a license covering the songs that musicians performed in that establishment, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held June 6 .
Prior to filing a lawsuit, Broadcast Music Inc. had repeatedly contacted Meadowlake Ltd. with respect to Rafters Bar and Grill, a golf-course restaurant in Canton, Ohio that was operated by Meadowlake. BMI's requests that Rafters stop infringing its copyrights by performing BMI controlled music were unanswered, prompting the filing of an infringement lawsuit. Meadowlake, Roy E. Barr—who owned 95 percent of Meadowlake—, and Roy's son, Philip Barr, were named defendants. Meadowlake and Philip Barr evaded the suit by declaring for bankruptcy and the district court then granted BMI summary judgment of infringement against Roy Barr. The district court ordered Roy Barr to pay $10,800 in statutory damages and $17,315 in attorneys' fees.
The appeals court affirmed the summary judgment ruling, finding that Roy Barr's conduct satisfied the vicarious liability standard set forth in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd., 545 U.S. 913, 75 U.S.P.Q.2d 1001 (2005). That standard, the Sixth Circuit said, allows for liability against a defendant who profits from the infringement and fails to take steps to stop it.
The appeals court was unmoved by Roy Barr's arguments that he personally never performed the infringing songs and that his son, not him, managed the restaurant. “A defendant's ignorance about the infringement or the performances does not blunt vicarious liability,” Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton said. Indeed, “The point of the doctrine is to encourage people like Roy to police performances at their restaurants in the first place,” the court said.
Judges Danny J. Boggs and Helene N. White joined the opinion.
BMI was represented by Robert E. Chudakoff of Ulmer & Berne, Cleveland. Roy Barr represented himself.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)