One of the world's leading music copyright organizations has sued the Jukebox Nightclub for multiple copyright violations.
ASCAP, or the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, named the Jukebox Nightclub, 1703 New Holland Pike, as one of 15 bars and restaurants nationwide singled out for repeated violations of musical copyright. The organization announced the legal action in a press release Thursday morning.
The Jukebox Nightclub, as well as owner John Katras, is named in a lawsuit filed on Tuesday, March 3, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Efforts to reach Katras and the Jukebox Nightclub were unsuccessful. Katras bought the business in 2015, according to LNP | Lancaster Online archives. The Jukebox opened in 1986 in what had been the Eden Hotel.
According to court documents, the Jukebox initially entered into its licensing agreement in May of 2009 and continued to pay the fee until April of 2018. According to ASCAP, representatives of the organization have been rebuffed since then in efforts to contact the Jukebox and reinstate the licensing agreement.
"We don't necessarily want to litigate this at the end of the day," Jackson Wagener, Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs at ASCAP, told LNP in a phone call. "We're looking to settle and get an amicable settlement agreement. That's our preference."
ASCAP licensing fees vary depending on the business in question, though yearly fees are typically determined by a combination of whether music is performed live, how and how often the music is performed, occupancy and if a cover charge is collected at the door. The minimum fee for ASCAP's catalog of nearly 11.5 million songs and 735,000 songwriters is $390, though Wagener could not say what the Jukebox's specific yearly fee was.
The three songs listed in the suit are as follows:
-"Jump Around," written by Erik Schrody, Kal Mann, Dave Appell and Larry Muggerud and popularized by House of Pain.
"Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)" written by Robert Clivilles and Frederick B. Williams and popularized by C+C Music Factory.
-"Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)," written by Ricky Hawk and Timothy Mingo and popularized by Silentó.
The dates listed in the lawsuit state that the songs were performed on December 31, 2019 and January 1, 2020. According to Wagener, after over a year of not hearing from businesses that infringe works, ASCAP will usually hire an independent investigator to visit the business and report the songs that were played on a given night.
The standard monetary damages for copyright violations in a civil lawsuit are stated to be "no less than $750 and no more than $30,000 per work infringed."
"Most courts will base those numbers on what businesses saved during the years that the business was not licensed," Wagener said. "The rationale that judges have picked up on is that it can't be cheaper to ignore your rights under the copyright law than it is to comply."
"We want every business that uses music to prosper, including bars and restaurants," ASCAP chairman and president Paul Williams said in the press release. "After all, as songwriters and composers, we are small business owners, too, and music is more than an art form for us. It’s how we put food on the table and send our kids to school."
Here is the full list of offending businesses:
- American Dream/Hangout (Omaha, Nebraska)
- Breakaway (Danvers, Massachusetts)
- The British Bulldog Pub (Columbia, South Carolina)
- Cowboy Jack's (Woodbury, Minnesota)
- Dr. Feelgood's Pub (Beaverton, Oregon)
- Gabe's Iowa City (Iowa City, Iowa)
- Hoptinger (Jacksonville Beach, Florida)
- Izzy's BBQ Lounge and Grill (Superior, Wisconsin)
- Jimmy B's Sports Bar & Grill (Cincinnati, Ohio)
- Jukebox Nightclub (Lancaster, Pennsylvania)
- Limerick's Tavern (Chino Hills, California)
- Main Street Music (Murfreesboro, Tennessee)
- Paradise Grill (Long Neck, Delaware)
- Show Palace Gentlemen’s Club (Darien, Wisconsin)
- Tequilas Night Club (Abilene, Texas)
Staff writer Tim Mekeel contributed to this report.