ASCAP And Songwriters Victorious In Two Court Contests With California Radio Stations That Refused To Pay ASCAP License Fees
July 13, 2018
NEW YORK, July 13, 2018 – Federal judges in Los Angeles and New York on Wednesday issued court rulings protecting the rights of songwriters and publishers in two separate but related matters involving three California radio stations, ordering the stations to pay more than $1.5 million in license fees, costs, attorneys’ fees and statutory damages to the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), and its members.
Royce International Broadcasting Corporation (Royce International) and its principal owner, Edward Stolz, II, failed to pay ASCAP license fees over several years for radio stations KFRH-FM, KREV-FM, and KRCK-FM, infringing on copyrighted songs written and published by ASCAP members, which they continued to broadcast without permission.
California U.S. District Judge Jesus G. Bernal awarded more than $900,000 in attorney’s fees and costs in an infringement action filed by ASCAP on behalf of its members. That award, levied against Royce International and Stolz, followed an earlier jury verdict in the case that found Royce International and Stolz to be willful infringers and required them to pay $330,000 in statutory damages. Judge Bernal also previously issued an injunction blocking the Royce stations from playing ASCAP members’ songs without a license.
In a separate proceeding, New York U.S. District Judge Denise Cote rejected the Royce stations’ application for licenses under the ASCAP Consent Decree. Judge Cote, who serves as the ASCAP “rate court” judge, determined that the stations applied for ASCAP licenses in an attempt to stave off the consequences of Judge Bernal’s injunction. Because its Consent Decree allows ASCAP to refuse to license any music user that indisputably owes license fees to ASCAP under a prior license, Judge Cote concluded that the Royce stations are not entitled to ASCAP licenses until they pay the organization more than $319,000 in license fees. Calling Royce International’s behavior “unconscionable and unreasonable,” Judge Cote gave the radio broadcaster until July 20, 2018 to pay ASCAP that sum if it wants to obtain ASCAP licenses for the three radio stations.
“Songwriters deserve to be fairly compensated when their music is performed, and those who use music without permission should be rightly held accountable. The decision by Judges Bernal and Cote affirm this basic principle,” said ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews. “While we prefer to work directly with licensees to ensure songwriters’ work is not infringed, we will take the necessary steps to protect our members’ rights. We are pleased both of these judges recognized songwriters’ value and have taken measures to protect their livelihoods.”
The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) is a professional membership organization of songwriters, composers and music publishers of every kind of music. ASCAP's mission is to license and promote the music of its members and foreign affiliates, obtain fair compensation for the public performance of their works and to distribute the royalties that it collects based upon those performances. ASCAP members write the world's best-loved music and ASCAP has pioneered the efficient licensing of that music to hundreds of thousands of enterprises who use it to add value to their business - from bars, restaurants and retail, to radio, TV and cable, to Internet, mobile services and more. The ASCAP license offers an efficient solution for businesses to legally perform ASCAP music while respecting the right of songwriters and composers to be paid fairly. With more than 735,000 members representing more than 11.5 million copyrighted works, ASCAP is the worldwide leader in performance royalties, service and advocacy for songwriters and composers, and the only American performing rights organization (PRO) owned and governed by its writer and publisher members. Learn more and stay in touch at www.ascap.com, on Twitter and Instagram @ASCAP and on Facebook.
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Cathy Halgas Nevins, ASCAP
cnevins (at) ascap.com