DeKalb bar owners face suit over alleged copyright infringement

By Rhys Saunders | Aug 29, 2013


Karaoke staples “Brown Eyed Girl” and “Folsom Prison Blues” have landed two DeKalb bar proprietors in hot water as they face allegations of copyright infringement from one of the largest music rights company in America.

Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) filed suit on Aug. 21 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against Thomas and Kristine Schmidt, who operate and manage MT Nest, a limited liability company that owns Hometown Sports Bar & Grill in DeKalb.

The suit accuses the pair of committing copyright infringement by publicly performing or causing the public performance of nine songs from the BMI catalog on June 13 and 14 at the DeKalb sports bar. It was not immediately clear how the songs were performed.

BMI is seeking an undisclosed amount of money for damages and attorneys fees.

Twelve other companies – all of which own the copyrights in the musical compositions – have joined BMI as plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

BMI, according to its website, represents more than 7.5 million copyrighted musical compositions created and owned by more than 600,000 songwriters, composers and musical publishers.

BMI claims that the alleged performances are causing “incalculable damages,” and is requesting the court to restrain Thomas and Kristine Schmidt from further acts of alleged copyright infringement.

“By continuing to provide unauthorized public performances of works in the BMI Repertoire at the Establishment, Defendants threaten to continue committing copyright infringement,” BMI asserts in the suit.

The suit has been filed against Thomas and Kristine Schmidt individually, as well as MT Nest LLC and the bar. Thomas Schmidt is responsible for the operation and management of MT Nest LLC, as well as the bar, according to the suit.

He has the “right and ability to supervise the activities of Defendant MT Nest, LLC and a direct financial interest in that limited liability company and the Establishment.”

Kristine Schmidt is the secretary of MT Nest LLC.

The songs listed in the lawsuit include “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison; “Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash; “Good Times a.k.a. Rappers’ Delight” by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards; “New Age Girl” by Caleb Guillotte; “Run Around” by John Popper; “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Jim Steinman; “Hit ‘Em Up Style” by Dallas Austin; “Bring Me Back to Life” Amy Lee, Ben Moody and David Hodges; and “Mambo No. 5” by Lou Bega.

A status hearing is set for Dec. 17 before U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel.

Chicago attorneys Charles A. Laff and Gilberto E. Espinoza of Michael, Best & Friedrich LLP represent the plaintiffs.

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