The neighborhood live music venue was one of a dozen bars and clubs around the country hit with copyright infringement lawsuits from ASCAP, an organization representing artists and publishers.
Most nights of the week, the High Dive bar gives local musicians looking to make a name for themselves a stage to perform on. Ironically, the Fremont club now finds itself under fire from a national organization representing musicians.
On Wednesday, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) filed a lawsuit against the High Dive and owners Ty Franzer and Antony Johnson accusing the venue of playing copyrighted songs without a license. The copyright-infringement suit was among a dozen brought against bars, restaurants and nightclubs around the country, including Dante’s in Portland.
High Dive manager Darren Mohr said in an email that the club has been in touch with ASCAP and that they “are working together to bring about a speedy resolution.”
The suit, which seeks between $750 and $30,000 in damages, accuses the neighborhood club of publicly performing copyrighted songs without obtaining an ASCAP license. The organization handles licensing for its members, which include songwriters, composers and music publishers. According to ASCAP, the annual license enabling establishments to play songs from its vast catalog costs most bars about $2 a day. Artists get a cut of the licensing fees in the form of royalties.
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Since March 2012, ASCAP representatives attempted to contact the High Dive about getting a license more than 60 times, according to the complaint. The complaint specifically cites the “public performances” of three copyrighted songs — Stone Temple Pilots “Interstate Love Song,” Jill Scott’s “The Way” and Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours” — during the club’s karaoke night on Oct. 8. ASCAP represents roughly 680,000 members with more than 11.5 million copyrighted works.
Such copyright-infringement lawsuits against unlicensed bars and venues is not uncommon. In February, ASCAP unveiled a similar wave of lawsuits, which included the Dam Bar in Port Angeles. The small-town pub that also hosts live music reportedly settled for $8,500 in licensing and attorney fees, according to the Peninsula Daily News.