Earlier this week, BMI and collection of labels and artists filed suit against Pianos on the Lower East Side for having the nerve to play hits like the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive" and Poison's "Talk Dirty to Me" without having the permission to do so.
A bar or club isn't technically allowed to play a copy written song without first securing the appropriate licenses from the performance rights group?such as ASCAP or BMI?that represent songwriters. Enforcement has traditionally been pretty lax over the years, although every once in a while, the organizations file a lawsuit to remind venue owners that they exist. In 2007, for example, ASCAP filed suits against a handful of spots, including Jay-Z's 40/40 and Hiro at the Maritime Hotel. More recently, ASCAP and BMI slapped Cafe Wha? with a suit back in March.
This time around BMI is turning its attention to the Lower East Side and coming down on Pianos, claiming the venue caused "great and incalculable damage" for illegally playing songs.