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Indiana karaoke bar faces off with BMI

Published: Friday, September 12, 2003

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 20:07

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - A music licensing agency that represents singers such as Sheryl Crow and Dolly Parton has filed a federal copyright lawsuit that could silence karaoke nights in central Indiana. In a lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis, Broadcast Music Inc. alleges an eastside bar violated copyright laws by hosting karaoke and live music shows without paying licensing fees to use popular songs. New York-based BMI is a performance rights organization that collects license fees on behalf of songwriters when their music is played on radio, television, the Internet, or is performed publicly. The lawsuit claims that Parrotheads Bar and Grill failed to pay licensing fees for using songs such as ''God Bless the USA'' and ''Old Time Rock and Roll.'' Parrotheads would likely have to pay annual license fees of about $1,000, said Jerry Bailey, a spokesman for BMI. Besides the bar, the lawsuit names former owner Gary S. Neumann and Triple L. Inc. as defendants. Neumann was out of town, his wife said Wednesday when The Associated Press called seeking comment. There was no number for Triple L. Inc. in Indianapolis listings. The phone at Parrotheads rang unanswered. Scores of nightclubs and restaurants in Indianapolis play music without paying licensing fees, and the lawsuit could lead some to reconsider karaoke and live music shows, The Indianapolis Star reported. ''Everyone will be watching to see how this turns out,'' said disc jockey Justin Posav of GTI Sounds in Noblesville. ''Many of them view BMI like the police.''

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