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Tequila House Named in Suit Alleging Infringement Against Songwriters

Uptown night club one of 13 bars and restaurant named across the country

DJs perform at a packed Tequila House Night Club
Tequila House Night Club in Uptown was one of 13 bars and restaurants named in an ASCAP suit alleging copyright infringement this week. (Via Google Images)

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) announced Tuesday that it has filed a lawsuit against 13 bars and restaurants across the country for allegedly infringing on the copyrights of songwriters, composers and music publishers represented by the organization, according to a Tuesday press release. Tequila House Night Club, a Latin club in Uptown Charlotte, is among the venues.

ASCAP, a not-for-profit membership association, represents more than 960,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers, collecting licensing fees venues must pay to host public performances of copyrighted songs and ensuring its members receive the royalties owed to them through those license fees.

The lawsuit alleges that 13 bars and restaurants including Tequila House refused to pay ASCAP license fees, which can be a lifeline to songwriters who license their performance rights, as granted to them under copyright law.

“Businesses use music because it helps to create an ambiance that brings customers back and makes them stay longer,” said Stephanie Ruyle, executive vice president and head of licensing at ASCAP. “Hundreds of thousands of well-run businesses across the nation recognize this and understand that compensating the songwriters who created it is the lawful and right thing to do. However, each of the establishments sued today has decided to use music without paying its creators. By filing these actions, ASCAP is standing up for songwriters whose music is essential to those businesses and their customers.” 

ASCAP claims that the venues named in the suit did not obtain permission to use copyrighted music, a process that amounts to securing a simple license that covers 19 million musical works in the ASCAP repertory. According to the press release, the average cost for venues totals less than $2 per day for the right to play an unlimited amount of music.

“We want every business that uses music to prosper, including bars and restaurants,” said ASCAP Chairman and President Paul Williams, also a songwriter. “As songwriters and composers, we must earn our livelihoods through our creative work, and music is how we put food on the table and send our kids to school. Most businesses know that an ASCAP license allows them to offer music legally, efficiently and at a reasonable price — while compensating music creators fairly.”

Despite ASCAP reaching out to the venues multiple times to educate the owners about their obligations under federal copyright law and offer a license, the respective owners have repeatedly refused to take or honor a license, according to the release.  

The bars and restaurants have continued to perform ASCAP members’ copyrighted material without permission to do so, the lawsuit claims. 

The 12 venues besides  included in the lawsuit are listed below:; Bull City Ciderworks (Wilmington, NC); Celsius Night Club (Fort Myers, FL); Dillons Restaurant and Sports Bar (Lawrenceville, GA); Influence Restaurant & Lounge (Norcross, GA); Route 65 Pub & Grub (East Bethel, MN); Scoreboard Sports Bar & Grill (Crowne Plaza) (Woburn, MA); Sean Ryan Pub (Vero Beach, FL); Strasse Haus (Covington KY); SWAY Nightclub (Ft. Lauderdale, FL); The Cabin Whiskey & Grill (Peoria, AZ); Treble Makers Dueling Piano Bar & Restaurant (Wesley Chapel, FL); and T. Shorty’s Sports Grill (Denver, CO).

Located on West 5th Street, Tequila House was named by Queen City Nerve in 2020 as the one of the sites of Charlotte’s “Top Shitshows of the Pandemic” after they hosted a packed party with no regulations in place in November 2020. 

Queen City Nerve’s request for comment from Tequila House management have gone answered as of press time.


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