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Broadcast Music, Inc. v. River City Bar and Grill LLC

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Statesville Division

February 26, 2014

BROADCAST MUSIC, INC.; WARNER-TAMERLANE PUBLISHING CORP.; HOUSE OF BRYANT PUBLICATIONS, LLC; COTILLION MUSIC, INC.; TERRY STAFFORD MUSIC CO.; SCREEN GEMSEMI MUSIC, INC.; SONGPAINTER MUSIC; SONY/ATV SONGS LLC d/b/a SONY/ATV TREE PUBLISHING; KENNY O'DELL MUSIC; ABKCO MUSIC, INC.; FOREIGN IMPORTED PRODUCTIONS AND PUBLISHING INC.; UNIVERSAL — SONGS OF POLYGRAM INTERNATIONAL, INC.; SONY/ATV SONGS LLC d/b/a SONY/ATV ACUFF ROSE MSUIC; HOUSE OF GAGA PUBLISHING INC.; REDONE PRODUCTION LLC d/b/a SONGS REDONE; PEER INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION; SONGS OF UNIVERSAL, INC., Plaintiffs,
v.
RIVER CITY BAR AND GRILL LLC d/b/a RIVER CITY BAR AND GRILL; ANGELA J. HELSON AND JAY HELSON, each individually, Defendants.

ORDER & JUDGMENT

RICHARD L. VOORHEES, District Judge.

THIS MATTER is before the court on Plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgment (Doc. 33) and Memorandum in Support (Doc. 34), both filed on September 30, 2013.

I. DISCUSSION

Plaintiff Broadcast Music, Inc. ("BMI") is a New York corporation that has been granted the right to license the public performance rights in approximately 7.5 million copyrighted musical compositions (the "BMI Repertoire"). (Doc. 1 at 2.) All other Plaintiffs in this suit were joined pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 17(a) and 19(a), and are the owners of the copyrights in the musical compositions that are the subject of this lawsuit. ( Id. )

Defendant River City Bar and Grill LLC ("River City LLC") is a member-managed limited liability company organized and existing under the laws of the State of North Carolina. ( Id. at 4.) River City LLC operates, maintains, and controls an establishment known as River City Bar and Grill (the "Establishment"), located at 155C Pinnacle Lane, Mooresville, NC. ( Id. ) Defendants Angela J. Helson and Jay Helson are members and managers of River City LLC with responsibility for the operation and management of the limited liability company and the Establishment. ( Id. )

Plaintiffs allege seventeen claims of copyright infringement based upon Defendants' unauthorized public performance of musical compositions from the BMI Repertoire. ( Id. at 5.) Plaintiffs' claims are supported by the declarations of Kerri Howland-Kruse ("Howland-Kruse") (Doc. 33-1) and Lawrence E. Stevens ("Stevens") (Doc. 33-2), along with other accompanying exhibits.

The record reveals that Plaintiffs were successful in serving Defendants on April 9, 2013, (Doc. 26), and Defendants' failure to answer or otherwise respond to the complaint resulted in an entry of Default by the Clerk of Court on June 28, 2013. (Doc. 30.)

Plaintiffs request relief[1] in the form of (1) an injunction restraining River City LLC from infringing the copyrighted musical compositions licensed by BMI, pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 502; (2) statutory damages in the amount of $35, 000.00 (approximately $2, 058.82 for each of the seventeen claims), pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 504(c); (3) Plaintiffs' costs and reasonable attorney's fees in the amount of $6, 695.00, pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 505; and (4) interest on these awards, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1961. (Doc. 33 at 1-2.)

A. Infringement

Plaintiffs have established each of their seventeen claims of copyright infringement for Defendants' unauthorized public performance of musical compositions from the BMI Repertoire.[2]

Here, BMI made a number of phone calls and sent numerous warnings advising Defendants that a license was required to perform any of the several million musical compositions contained in the BMI Repertoire. (Doc. 33-2 at 2-3, ¶¶ 2-7.) BMI actually received an improper application for license and fee from Angela Helson that was returned with instructions on the proper procedure. ( Id. at ¶6.) However, even after receiving five separate cease and desist notices from BMI ( Id. at ¶7), a BMI employee visited the Establishment and made an audio recording that provides the basis for the seventeen copyright infringements claims alleged in the Complaint. ( Id. at 3-4, ¶¶ 11-13.)

Thus, Plaintiffs have proven copy right infringement by River City LLC in violation of the United States Copyright Act of 1976, as amended, 17 U.S.C. Sections 101 et seq.

B. Injunctive Relief

Plaintiffs request that River City LLC d/b/a/ River City Bar and Grill and its agents, servants, employees, and all persons acting under its permission and authority, be enjoined and restrained from infringing, in any manner, the copyrighted musical ...


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