Popular Chicago Pizzeria Sued by Sony for Karaoke Covers of Willie Nelson, Weezer, Red Hot Chili Peppers

The Wicker Park pizzeria has been sued by Sony and BMI for copyright infringement by its karaoke band
Popular Chicago Pizzeria Sued by Sony for Karaoke Covers of Willie Nelson, Weezer, Red Hot Chili Peppers

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A BMI representative visited the bar and heard the band play three songs that Piece never licensed. 

Piece Brewery and Pizzeria, the popular pizza shop in Chicago’s Wicker Park, has been sued for karaoke by Sony and BMI, the licensing organization that works on behalf of musicians and composers.

Specifically, Sony and BMI have taken issue with covers of three specific songs, all of which were performed on Sunday, August 23, 2015: “Say It Ain’t So” by Weezer, “Crazy” by Willie Nelson, and “Give It Away” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Live karaoke takes place at Piece every Saturday night.

According to the February 17 lawsuit, Piece’s karaoke band “publicly performed and/or caused to be publicly performed at the establishment the musical composition[s]… without a license or permission to do so. Thus, defendants have committed copyright infringement.” BMI, one of three U.S. organizations to represent performers’ rights, especially with regard to licensing, alleges that it has contacted Piece and its owner, Bill Jacobs, at least 70 times since 2014 and sent several Cease and Desist letters.

The three songs named in the lawsuit (the bands themselves are not involved in the lawsuit) were heard by a BMI representative who went to Piece in person. A spokesman for the company told the Chicago Sun Times that the lawsuit was a “last resort” after failing to reach Jacobs. Sony and BMI are seeking statutory damages and for Piece to be barred from “infringing, in any manner, the copyrighted musical compositions licensed by BMI.”

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