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Ladson bar sued on accusation of copyright infringement

Hospitality and Tourism
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A Ladson music venue is being sued by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, which says the bar played copyright musical works without paying license fees.

The lawsuit, filed last week in the U.S. District Court of South Carolina, alleges that HonkyTonk Saloon played four songs in violation of copyright on Jan. 4 and 5. The songs include Blue Ain’t Your ColorCopperhead RoadSangria and House Party.

HonkyTonk Saloon’s parent company, North Charleston Hospitality Group LLC, and restaurateur Sam Mustafa are named in the lawsuit. HonkyTonk Saloon is one of 13 establishments being sued by ASCAP and the only one in South Carolina.

ASCAP said in the lawsuit that it made more than 50 attempts to contact HonkyTonk Saloon since January 2017 to offer the venue an ASCAP license, including by mail, email, phone and in person.

“The establishments sued today have decided not to pay songwriters,” said ASCAP Executive Vice President of Licensing Stephanie Ruyle in a news release. “By filing these actions, ASCAP is standing up for songwriters whose creative work brings great value to all businesses that publicly perform their music.”

ASCAP is a professional membership organization that represents almost 700,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers. The organization says the average license cost for bars and restaurants is less than $2 per day to play an unlimited amount of music, and 88% of license fees that it collects go directly to its members as royalties.

HonkyTonk Saloon and North Charleston Hospitality Group did not respond to interview requests by press time.

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