Conway, Arkansas Mexican restaurant La Huerta has been ordered by Arkansas courts to pay a large fine for playing unlicensed music. Broadcast Music Inc. of New York (BMI) received a default judgment of $30,000 as well as $7,000 in lawyer fees against the restaurant and it’s owner, Julio Nunez, after a lawsuit filed by BMI last year in a Little Rock federal court.

According to court records obtained by Arkansas Business, Nunez played 12 copyrighted songs in his restaurant in 2011 but failed to secure licenses for the songs from BMI. When served with the lawsuit, Nunez failed to reply, giving BMI a default ruling. BMI spokeswoman Leah Luddine said that officials from BMI attempted to contact Nunez and the restaurant “dozens of times over an extended period,” with no success.

The disputed music included songs such as “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” “All I Have To Do Is Dream,” “Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About,” and “When Did You Stop Loving Me?”

Luddine explained the importance of securing licensing for songs played in public. “We act as the facilitator between the music users and the music creators,” she said. “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 went on to state that BMI would rather have handled the issue out of the courts, but was given no choice by Nunez’s silence.

The majority of business owners who play music in public obtain licenses from BMI, which are relatively easy to get and can cost less than $30 per month. Without such blanket licenses, business owners would have to personally receive permission from the songwriters, composers, and publishers of each song played at their establishments.

Source: Arkansas Business