The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers is suing nine restaurant owners for not paying for the right to play certain songs in their restaurants. Most of the restaurants are on Long Island, and the suit is actually one of about 100 to 150 the organization launches annually against restaurants, which, unlike individuals, have to pay for the right to play licensed music. ASCAP is suing for somewhere between a few hundred dollars and $150,000 in damages (the number due is usually left to a judge), but the co-owner of one restaurant, The Homestead, believes it will cost him around $15,000 to settle the suit.
Restaurants are expected to pay dues to the ASCAP in order to pay copyrighted music; A 100 seat restaurant owes a modest $705 a year. The challenge is that there are several organizations, each of which represents different artists that require fees be paid. As one restaurant owner told FDRMX, "I understand the licensing and all that...but I'm not Westbury Music Fair or Nassau Coliseum. I'm a small restaurant."