November 9, 2018

Ralph's Rock Diner sued by music groups for copyright infringement

Photo | Sam Bonacci
Ralph's Rock Diner in Worcester.

Two separate music groups are suing Worcester's Ralph's Rock Diner alleging copyright infringement because the bar allows live performances and karaoke of copyrighted music without receiving appropriate licenses.

New York City-based Broadcast Music Inc. and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers filed the lawsuits on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

BMI is granted the rights to license the public performance of nearly 14 million copyrighted songs, while ASCAP protects the rights of over 670,000 songs.

Both lawsuits allege it had made Ralph's owner Vincent Hemmeter aware of the alleged infringement going back several years. BMI claims it had reached out to Hemmeter over 70 times since 2015 via phone, mail and email.

According to BMI, copyrighted material are by Shel Silverstein, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons; John C. Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival; Paul Simon,;Les Emerson of the Five Man Electrical Band; Jim Steinman, June Carter, wife of Johnny Cash; The Flaming Lips, Amy Winehouse; Cage the Elephant; and the Pixies.

In ASCAP's suit, the organization names copyrighted songs by Tommy Shaw of Renegade, Buck Ram, Panic! At the Disco and Notorious BIG.

ASCAP is seeking a penalty of between $750 and $30,000 in each case, while BMI did not specify a figure.

Hemmeter could not immediately be reached for comment.

The diner, bar and music venue located on Grove Street hosts karaoke every Wednesday night and boasts a wide variety of musical acts.

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