Recent litigation between music copyright authority Broadcast Music Inc. and Long Shots Bar and Billiards in Cape Girardeau has made local bars and restaurants wary. After being sued by BMI for copyright infringement, Long Shots and BMI settled the lawsuit for an undisclosed sum. When music plays at a restaurant or bar, whether it be from a jukebox, over the radio, or performed by a live band, the proprietor has a responsibility to pay a licensing fee to BMI, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers and/or SESAC, or risk being in violation of copyright law. It’s common for local businesses to establish a policy of hiring only musicians who perform strictly original material. Local musician Jason Heeter tells KZIM KSIM playing cover songs are a necessity for local bands to thrive.
Musicians typically aren’t the ones held liable for copyright infringement.