Popular West Valley restaurant accused of playing copyrighted music without permission

Posted: Updated:
(Source: KPHO/KTVK) (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
(Source: ASCAP) (Source: ASCAP)

It's one of the West Valley's hottest hangouts, but now the Whiskey Rose Bar and Grill in Glendale is facing a potential court battle. 

The establishment, which is located in the Westgate Entertainment District, is accused of playing copyrighted songs without permission.

A lawsuit has just been filed against Whiskey Rose and eight other similar establishments across the country.

All are accused of refusing to get licenses with the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), which would grant the businesses permission to play an unlimited amount of music.

Ruth Carter, an intellectual property attorney in Phoenix, said that playing other people's music in a public venue, where there are paying customers, is kind of like stealing.

"Just because somebody thinks they are not doing harm, it doesn't mean they are not doing harm," Carter said. "That's similar to the Napster story, when a housewife got sued for millions of dollars for illegally downloading songs."

ASCAP reportedly reached out to Whiskey Rose owners and managers several times, but did not hear back, prompting the lawsuit.

Even karaoke songs come under scrutiny when it comes to copyright infringement.

Legal experts said that a karaoke bar must still obtain permission to use copyrighted music, even when the star of the show is only there for fun. 

Keith Patton is a DJ who sells karaoke equipment to Valley businesses at Karaoke Now in Phoenix.

Patton said that most business owners are aware that they need a license before any music is played. 

"As far as we know, most bars and restaurants pay the money," Patton said.

"Hundreds of thousands of well-run businesses across the nation recognize the importance of paying music creators to use their music, and understand that it is both the lawful and right thing to do," Vincent Candilora, ASCAP vice president of licensing, said. "ASCAP is standing up for songwriters whose creative work brings great value to all businesses that publicly perform their music."

According to ASCAP's website, the average cost for bars and restaurants to have access to an endless supply of music is less than $2 a day.

Most of the proceeds from the licensing fees go toward songwriters, publishers and composers.

Copyright 2016 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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