DJ's, music industry reacts to karaoke bar lawsuit

DJ's, music industry reacts to Knoxville area karaoke bar lawsuit

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"It's a little insulting that right in our town here that our bars and restaurants that are stealing music from us, essentially," said Joe Vangieri, president and CEO of DigiTrax Entertainment. "It's a little insulting that right in our town here that our bars and restaurants that are stealing music from us, essentially," said Joe Vangieri, president and CEO of DigiTrax Entertainment.
Some of the locations included in the complaint Blue Coast Burrito in Market Square, Paul's Oasis and Toot's in the Happy Holler District. Some of the locations included in the complaint Blue Coast Burrito in Market Square, Paul's Oasis and Toot's in the Happy Holler District.
"Nobody ever asked me to see my disc. Nobody asked me to prove anything," said karaoke jockey Matthew McClure. "Nobody ever asked me to see my disc. Nobody asked me to prove anything," said karaoke jockey Matthew McClure.

By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A lawsuit accuses nearly 40 businesses and individuals in Knoxville and the Tri-Cities of using pirated karaoke music.

Piracy Recovery and Worldwide Digital Entertainment are behind the federal lawsuit.   Some of the locations included in the complaint Blue Coast Burrito in Market Square, Paul's Oasis and Toot's in the Happy Holler District.

There are also a number of DJ's listed in the civil suit. 

Digitrax Entertainment in South Knoxville works as a record label for karaoke music producing the tunes heard in karaoke bars all over the country.

"It's a little insulting that right in our town here that our bars and restaurants that are stealing music from us, essentially," said Joe Vangieri, president and CEO of DigiTrax Entertainment.

The plaintiffs are suing karaoke DJ's and venues, saying the songs used there were unauthorized or counterfeit and were not paid for.

The companies own the copyright and trademark assets of Big Mama's Karaoke - a Seymour company that - according to the lawsuit - had to lay off 60 workers due to piracy losses.

"This is a very rampant problem. It's a rampant problem throughout the entire country," said attorney Robby Robinson.

Robinson is one of the attorney's in the lawsuit, and says the companies he represents have paid millions to get the licenses from Sony and other music studios to re-produce the songs.   He says the companies lose out when karaoke discs are pirated.

"They'll start sharing them with other buddies, who are also KJ's and then they'll start making copies and copies of hard drives," said Robinson.  

Matthew McClure is known as a KJ or karaoke jockey. 

McClure is named on the lawsuit, along with Paul's Oasis--- one of the establishments he works for.  The lawsuit alleges McClure played an infringed copy of "Midnight Train to Georgia" by Gladys Knights & The Pips on March 1, 2013.    

McClure showed 6 News he had legitimate karaoke CD with the song in question.  

McClure says he's done nothing wrong and has spent thousands of dollars buying legitimate karaoke recordings.  

"Nobody ever asked me to see my disc. Nobody asked me to prove anything," said McClure.     McClure was involved in a similar lawsuit back in 2011 that was eventually settled out of court. 

The owners of Toot's and Paul's Oasis says they weren't aware of the lawsuit, and didn't have reason to believe they had violated any law.  

A violation of a trademark law could result in a fine as much as $1 million.

Copyright infringement fines could range from $30,000 to as high as $150,000.  

Attorneys expect similar types of lawsuits to happen in Tennessee very soon.

 A partial list of the businesses charged in the lawsuit is posted below.

* Blue Coast Burrito March 2 2013, Knoxville.

* Bullfeather,  June 30, 2012, Knoxville. 

* Blue Chips Sports Pub and Grill September 22, 2012, Knoxville.

* Coyote Joe's Liquor Bar & Grill February 21, 2013, Clinton Hwy Knoxville. 

* Asia Cafe, Inc. May 4, 2013, Knoxville.

* The Edge October 2, 2012, Knoxville.

* Toot's Little Honkey Tonk June 30, 2012 Knoxville

* Paul's Oasis March 1, 2013  Knoxville,

 * DJ Marty Ray September 22, 2012, Knoxville  

* Jimmy's Southern Pub, March 16, 2013, Knoxville  

* Ayala's Mexican Restaurant June 25, 2012 Lenior City

* House of Sound Entertainment March 2, 2013 Knoxville

* Clowney Boy Karaoke (David Moore) February 21, 2013 5640 Clinton Hwy Knoxville  

* Darrel Wallace May 4, 2013 66714 Central Ave. Pk., Knoxville.  

* Jane Doe 1 October 2, 2012, Knoxville  

* Bullet,  March 16, 2013 Tazewell Pike, Knoxville 

* New York Style Entertainment June 25, 2012, Lenior City

Read the lawsuit

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