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Friday, June 21, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Unlicensed Song Plays May Cost Florida Bar

TAMPA, Fla. (CN) - Sony and more than a dozen other music copyright holders can sue a Florida bar that allegedly played their songs without a license, a federal judge ruled.

Broadcast Music, Sony/ATV Songs and 13 others filed six claims of copyright infringement against Evie's Tavern Ellenton and owner Michael Evanoff. Located 40 miles outside Tampa, the Ellenton bar belongs to a chain that has three other locations in Sarasota.

Evie's allegedly never paid royalties for the music it played because it does not have proper licensing.

On Nov. 30, U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich refused to dismiss the claims in response to Evie's claim that it does in fact have a license.

"Defendants have yet to introduce any evidence of a license or other permission given to Evie's," she wrote.

The judge also disagreed that corporate shield under Florida law protects Evanoff.

"The alleged facts show that Evie's had a financial interest in the public performances on the night of the alleged copyright infringement," Kovachevich wrote. "Because defendants, Evie's and Evanoff, benefited from the performances and admitted they owned, controlled, managed, and operated Evie's, they are vicariously liable for the infringement."

Evie's also failed to support its claims that the studios lack the capacity to sue or that they failed to properly register their companies in Florida.

"The copyright infringement pleading requirements do not require entities to comply with state law registration, unless that entity does business in that state," Kovachevich wrote. "The facts do not show that the entities are doing business in Florida nor do Defendants provide facts to the contrary. The argument that when certain parties are joined to a suit suggests they are operating or conducting business in the state of Florida, without any additional facts, fails to have any merit."

The other plaintiffs to the suit are The Bernard Edwards Co.; R-Key Darkus Publishing; Orbi-Lee Publishing; Barbara Orbison Music; Taking Care of Business Music; Songs of Universal; Escatawpa Songs; Bruce Robison Music; Carnival Music; Zombies Ate My Publishing; and State One Music America.

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