ASCAP Wins a $1.5 Million Ruling Against Three California Radio Stations

ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews
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ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews
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ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews

US-based radio stations already get a free pass on recording performances.  But that’s where the freebie ends.

Federal courts in New York and Los Angeles have ruled in separate but related cases that Edward Stolz, owner of KFRH-FM, KREV-FM and KRCK-FM radio stations in California, must pay more than $1.5 million in fees and damages to the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).

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In California courts, Stolz was ordered to pay $330,000 in statutory damages and $900,000 in legal fees. In New York courts, Stolz was ordered to pay more than $319,000 in licensing fees.

Ed Stolz acquired KREV and KFRH in 2009 and received ASCAP licenses for both stations, but only irregularly and incompletely paid contractually obligated licensing fees.  KRCK, acquired in 2001, also accumulated thousands of dollars in outstanding fees and financing charges.

The performance publishing group calculated the past-due balances to be $190,000 for KFRH, $96,690 for KREV, and $7,120 for KRCK.

In 2012, ASCAP terminated the licenses for all three radio stations following unsuccessful attempts to collect past-due balances.

ASCAP also had the California courts issue an injunction against the stations for using their music without permission.  The three radio stations continued to broadcast the music without permission, leading to the federal court case in California which eventually led to Stolz being ordered to pay statutory damages and attorneys’ fees.

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The federal court case in New York related to Stolz’s attempt to reapply for ASCAP licenses for his three radio stations.  The publishing rights society denied the applications due to the outstanding licensing fees, and the federal court in New York sided with the performance rights organization, ordering Stolz to pay more than $319,000 in outstanding fees.

ASCAP has hailed these court rulings as victories for content creators. “Songwriters deserve to be fairly compensated when their music is performed, and those who use music without permission should be rightly held accountable,” CEO Elizabeth Matthews said.

End of story.