Federal judges in LOS ANGELES and NEW YORK have ordered three CALIFORNIA radio stations to pay more than $1.5 million in license fees, costs, attorneys’ fees and statutory damages to the AMERICAN SOCIETY OF COMPOSERS, AUTHORS AND PUBLISHERS (ASCAP) and its members.
ROYCE INTERNATIONAL BROADCASTING CORP. and principal owner EDWARD STOLZ, II, failed to pay ASCAP license fees over several years for airplay on radio stations KFRH, KREV and KRCK, infringing on copyrighted songs written and published by ASCAP members, which they continued to broadcast without permission.
CALIFORNIA U.S. District Judge JESUS G. BERNAL awarded more than $900,000 in attorney’s fees and costs in an infringement action filed by ASCAP on behalf of its members. That award followed an earlier jury verdict that found ROYCE INTERNATIONAL and STOLZ to be willful infringers and required them to pay $330,000 in statutory damages. Judge BERNAL also previously issued an injunction blocking the ROYCE stations from playing ASCAP members’ songs without a license.
In a separate proceeding, NEW YORK U.S. District Judge DENISE COTE rejected the ROYCE stations’ application for licenses under the ASCAP Consent Decree. Judge COTE, who serves as the ASCAP “rate court” judge, determined that the stations applied for ASCAP licenses in an attempt to stave off the consequences of Judge BERNAL’s injunction. He concluded that the Royce stations are not entitled to ASCAP licenses until they pay the organization more than $319,000 in license fees.
Judge COTE gave the radio broadcaster until JULY 20th, 2018 to pay ASCAP that sum if it wants to obtain ASCAP licenses for the three radio stations.
“Songwriters deserve to be fairly compensated when their music is performed, and those who use music without permission should be rightly held accountable. The decision by Judges BERNAL and COTE affirm this basic principle,” ASCAP CEO ELIZABETH MATTHEWS said. “While we prefer to work directly with licensees to ensure songwriters’ work is not infringed, we will take the necessary steps to protect our members’ rights. We are pleased both of these judges recognized songwriters’ value and have taken measures to protect their livelihoods.