Charlotte bar sued for unauthorized performance of 'Wonderwall'

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A prominent music performing rights organization is suing a southwest Charlotte bar for unauthorized performances of their music without a proper license.

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Broadcast Music Inc, filed a civil complaint in federal court against The Trap, a bar on Westinghouse Boulevard near Steele Creek.

According to the lawsuit, BMI accuses The Trap of playing "Wonderwall" by Oasis, "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" by Whitney Houston, "Blue on Black" by Five Finger Death Punch and "Booty Man" by Tim Wilson.

BMI Executive Director Jodie Thomas says the group made more than 40 attempts to contact The Trap and the lawsuit was the last resort.

[PDF: Trap lawsuit]

“Since February 2015, BMI made more than 40 attempts to contact The Trap by phone, mail and email, in an effort to educate the business owner about the value music brings to their establishment, the requirements of copyright law, and the importance of maintaining a music license,” Jodie Thomas said. “We never want to see the music go away, but if our licensing efforts are unsuccessful, we might take legal action, which was the case with The Trap.”

Thomas says The Trap was playing copyrighted music from BMI’s repertoire without a BMI music license in place.

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“Under federal copyright law, when copyrighted music is performed in any establishment, regardless of whether it’s performed by a live band, recorded, DJ, karaoke, or a jukebox, the business owner must obtain permission from the copyright owner,” Thomas said.  “In most cases, that permission comes in the form of a music license.”

According to the lawsuit, The Trap played "Wonderwall", "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" and "Booty Man" on August 17, 2016. The lawsuit says "Blue on Black" was played on Oct. 4, 2016.

It’s unclear how BMI learned of this. Thomas says BMI often finds out venues are performing copyrighted music through internal research.

The group says a BMI music license costs as little as $378 per year and offers copyright clearance to publicly play more than 14 million musical works by over 900,000 songwriters, composers, and publishers in the BMI repertoire. Approximately one out of every two songs played on the radio is BMI-licensed music.

BMI is seeking damages and attorney fees.

The Trap did not respond to a request for comment.