Cover Bands, Coffee, and Copyright


When the recording industry isn't suing 13-year-olds, they're sending out the dogs on small coffee shop owners in Florida:

Music industry giant ASCAP started calling and sending letters saying East Coast Coffee & Tea was in violation of copyright laws. The fee to continue the music was $400 a year.

"At the time, the shop was losing money, so we had to break it up into payments," said Laurie Hall. But the Halls paid, and the music continued.

Six months later, other music copyright companies began calling the Halls and demanding money. Most days there would be three or four phone calls from each company, Hall said. Finally, unable to afford the fees, she had to call most of her musicians—those who did not play original music—and tell them they would not be allowed to continue performing.

This aggressive—but legal—posture being taken by music licensing companies has the potential to unplug live music in many restaurants, bars and coffee shops in Brevard County.

And some bonus hearsay:

Lou Andrus, owner of the popular beachside nightclub Lou's Blues…said a friend of his who owned a restaurant that did not feature music was contacted by a company looking to charge him because it owned the rights to a Hank Williams Jr. song, "Are You Ready for Some Football?" The song preceded every "Monday Night Football" telecast, which the restaurant carried on its televisions.

He said his friend simply chose to turn the volume down when the song came on.

More on on the music copyright wars here and here.