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La Huerta ordered to pay $37k for violating copyright law

Lawsuit says La Huerta played certain songs for public without license

Posted: July 12, 2013 - 4:04pm
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ERIC WHITE STAFF PHOTO  The sign of La Huerta Mexican Restaurant is shown. The restaurant was recently ordered to pay $37,000 in statutory damages and attorney fees.
ERIC WHITE STAFF PHOTO The sign of La Huerta Mexican Restaurant is shown. The restaurant was recently ordered to pay $37,000 in statutory damages and attorney fees.

La Huerta in Conway was ordered to pay $37,000 in statutory damages and attorney fees for playing certain songs for the public without proper licensing, according to federal court documents.

Broadcast Music, Inc., is over a host of other music and publishing groups as plaintiffs in the case filed in U.S. District Court last year.

Defendants are La Huerta Restaurant and owner Julio Nunez.

According to BMI spokeswoman Leah Luddine, 12 songs were played without legal copyright permission.

BMI, she said, acts as a facilitator between music users and music creators.

“The legal responsibilities to license music are covered under the U.S. Copyright Act. The purpose behind copyright protection is to enable songwriters to earn a living from their music so that they can continue to create it,” Luddine wrote in email correspondence.

Case documents filed in the final judgement last month list songs “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” by Eddie Holland and Norman Whitfield, “All I Have to Do is Dream” by Boudieaux Bryant, “Country Boy Can Survive,” by Hank Williams, Jr., and “Have Mercy” by Paul Kennerly among the 12 played without a license.

Each of the 12 songs carries an award of $2,500 to the plaintiffs, according to the judgement.

Luddine said BMI received a default judgement after Nunez was unable to be reached and the matter went to federal court.

She said BMI representatives reached out to the restaurant “dozens of times over an extended period of time by calling and sending letters” in an attempt to avoid a lawsuit.

“Unfortunately, throughout our long-time effort of reaching out, we never received a response from the business owner,” she said.

Nunez did not return a phone message seeking comment that was left at the restaurant Thursday.

It is likely many restaurants and businesses are playing music without a license.

Luddine said “blanket” licenses are available for restaurant owners who would otherwise have to contact each BMI songwriter, composer, and publisher for permission to play their music in public.

The group holds licensing rights to 7.5 million musical works by more than 600,000 songwriters, composers and publishers, according to BMI.

Around $7,000 of the damages went to lawyer fees.

Amy Lee Stewart, of Rose Law Firm in Little Rock, represented plaintiffs.

(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by email at courtney.spradlin@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)

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mikeng1994 07/12/13 - 08:11 pm

37k?!? Now that will Huerta

conwayville 07/12/13 - 09:12 pm
$37k is a lot, to some people.

Knowing Julio a little, it probably won't even phase his businesses any. About like you and I watching a penny fall to the ground and roll away. We think "oh it's just a penny".

Snuffy012150 07/13/13 - 11:11 am
Others Should Take Notice

I think that should get some attention of a lot of businesses that play music when they put telephone callers on hold. If they're rebroadcasting music and not paying to do so, they might just find themselves in a pickle if any radio stations, Conway Corp, etc. presses the matter. Those broadcasters have paid their blanket licenses to broadcast the music. The folks with music-while-on-hold, I think would find themselves in the same violation if they're not paying to rebroadcast that music. Most have bought licenses along with their phone systems or whatever music source they are using. However, a lot just hookup some radio station, Conway Corp's music channel, etc. and never pay any kind of fees to rebroadcast the music which is what they're actually doing.

dawn sumone
dawn sumone 07/13/13 - 06:02 pm
what a joke!

Seriously who sits there and listens to which songs are approved or not? Is there a scout that travels to each establishment in search of violators? Someone definitely has it out for them. This is ridiculous! Bring on the mariachi bands and mucho mescal,after a few they will not know what is playing but be responsible,no driving golf carts afterwards or sleeping under booths after closing.

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