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Broadcast Music, Inc. v. Station House Irish Pub & Steakhouse, Ltd.

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

August 12, 2014

BROADCAST MUSIC, INC., CONCORD MUSIC GROUP, INC. d/b/a JONDORA MUSIC; EVIL EYE MUSIC, INC.; BOCEPHUS MUSIC INC.; ABKCO MUSIC, INC.; CYANIDE PUBLISHING; HOUSE OF CASH, INC.; SONY/ATV SONGS LLC d/b/a SONY/ATV TREE PUBLISHING; COMBINE MUSIC CORP.; UNICHAPPELL MUSIC, INC.; UNIVERSAL-SONGS OF POLYGRAM INTERNATIONAL, INC.; TOKECO TUNES; PAINTED DESERT MUSIC CORPORATION, and CENTRAL SONGS, a division of BEECHWOOD MUSIC CORPORATION, Plaintiffs.
v.
THE STATION HOUSE IRISH PUB & STEAKHOUSE, LTD. d/b/a STATION HOUSE IRISH PUB & STEAKHOUSE; GARY RUSSO and CHRISTOPHER BENSON, each individually, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

JAMES M. MUNLEY, District Judge.

Before the court is plaintiffs' motion for default judgment (Doc. 15). The motion has been briefed and argued and is ripe for disposition.

Background

This case arises out of the performance of copyrighted material at The Station House Irish Pub & Steakhouse in Gouldsboro, Pennsylvania. Plaintiffs contend that performances at the restaurant violated their rights under the Copyright Act of 1976, as amended, 17 U.S.C. §§ 101 et seq.

Plaintiff Broadcast Music Incorporated (hereinafter "BMI") is a "performing rights society, " licensing the right to publicly perform a repertoire of copyrighted musical compositions on behalf of the owners of those copyrights.[1] (Doc. 16, Pls' Br. in Supp. Mot. for Default J. at 2). The remaining plaintiffs own the copyrights to the compositions allegedly played at defendants' establishment. (Id.)

Defendant Station House Irish Pub & Steakhouse (hereinafter "The Station House") is a limited liability company which operates, maintains and controls an establishment known as Station House Irish Pub & Steakhouse in Gouldsboro, Pennsylvania. (Doc. 1, Complaint (hereinafter "Compl.") ¶ 18). Defendant Gary Russo is the President of The Station House with responsibility for its operation and management. (Id. ¶ 21). Defendant Christopher Benson is the Vice President and Secretary of The Station House with responsibility for its operation and management. (Id. ¶ 23). The Station House publicly performs musical compositions at the restaurant including performances of live and recorded music. (Id. ¶ 19; Doc. 16, Pls.' Br. in Supp. Mot. for Default J. at 3).

Beginning in July 2009, BMI learned that The Station House was offering musical entertainment without a license from BMI, or without permission from the copyright owners. (Doc. 17, Declaration of Lawrence Stevens (hereinafter "Stevens Decl.") ¶ 3). BMI sent a letter to the defendants stating that defendants required a license to perform music from BMI's repertoire. The letter also contained an informational brochure, a BMI license agreement and a licensing fee schedule. (Id.) BMI received no response from the defendants. (Id.)

From September 2009 through November 2011, BMI repeatedly sent additional letters to the defendants informing them that they needed permission to offer public performances of BMI's copyrighted music. (Id. ¶ 5). On September 27, 2010, after receiving no response to any of their advisory letters, BMI sent defendants a cease and desist letter instructing defendants that they should cease public performances of music licensed by BMI. (Id. ¶ 6).

From September 2011 through July 2013, BMI sent defendants sixteen (16) additional letters notifying them that the cease and desist letter remained in full force and effect. (Id.) BMI's telephone records indicate that its licensing personnel telephoned defendants on ninety-four (94) occasions and spoke to persons associated with The Station House advising them that they were offering unauthorized public performance of BMI-licensed music and that a license was required. (Id. ¶ 8). Defendants nevertheless failed to enter into a license agreement with BMI and continued to offer unauthorized public performance of BMI music. (Id. ¶ 9) BMI then sent an investigator to The Station House who made an audio recording and prepared a written report naming the seventeen songs referenced in this lawsuit as ones played by a band in the restaurant on July 20, 2013 (Id. ¶ 10).[2]

In response, plaintiffs filed a complaint on October 2, 2013 alleging copyright infringement for each of the seventeen (17) songs annexed to the complaint. (See Doc. 1). The defendants failed to file a responsive pleading within the time period provided by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or by the Court's October 4, 2013 Order (Doc. 6). On February 25, 2014, plaintiffs filed a motion for default judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b) and brief in support thereof. The defendants failed to file any response to the plaintiffs' motion for default judgment and the court determined that a hearing on the motion was necessary to determine plaintiffs' relief.

On March 21, 2014, the court ordered plaintiffs to provide the court with mailing addresses of the individual defendants Gary Russo and Christopher Benson and on March 27, 2014 plaintiffs provided the court with the mailing addresses of the individual defendants. (See Docs. 21, 22). On May 28, 2014, the court mailed notice of the August 5, 2014 damages hearing to the residential mailing addresses of the individual defendants as well as to the known listed business address of The Station House.

On August 5, 2014, a hearing regarding the determination of plaintiffs' damages was held and the defendants failed to appear for the hearing. Accordingly, the court heard argument from the plaintiffs, bringing the case to its present posture.

Jurisdiction

As this case is brought pursuant to the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 101, et seq., the court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 ("The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under ...


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