On Wednesday, March 16, at a self-described "strip mall watering hole" out in Doral, someone made a terrible decision to perform a little song called "My Sacrifice."
It wasn't just the fact that it was a Creed song that made the selection such an awful choice. Instead, it appears someone at the restaurant with a trained ear was listening — and he or she realized that this was an illegal performance.
Last week, Universal Music, Broadcast Music Inc., and a legal representative for Scott Stapp filed a lawsuit against the Italian Sports Grill, alleging copyright infringement of pop music favorites including "Jesse's Girl," "Mr. Jones," and "Talk Dirty To Me." The suit includes 18 plaintiffs, including partnerships representing the Gibb brothers and the Counting Crows.
The lawsuit says the owners — Maria A. Delgado, Guillermo J. Delgado, and Ruben Serrudo — allowed public performances of at least 13 songs without obtaining the proper licensing. Several attempts by New Times to reach the owners by phone this week at the restaurant were unsuccessful.
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Since December 2011, BMI claims to have reached out to the owners over 115 times by phone, mail, and email, even making one in-person visit. Still, the owners continued to ignore cease-and-desist letters and allowed the songs to be performed without purchasing the necessary licenses, according to the complaint.
It's not the first time BMI has targeted a bar for unlicensed covers. In 2014, the music licensing behemoth demanded $1.5 million from a Cleveland bar that played "Bad Moon Rising" and the crowd-pleasing "Free Bird." A restaurant owner in Connecticut had to cough up $18,000 after BMI took the owners to court.
It appears the best way for business owners to avoid a lawsuit is for them to simply read their mail. Like the owners of the Italian Sports Grill, the Connecticut restaurant owner said he ignored several notices, not realizing it was a big deal.
"We ignored it. It’ll go away, you know what I’m saying?" he said. "It didn’t go away."