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Piece In Wicker Park Sued By BMI And Sony Over Live Band Karaoke

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 18, 2016 8:55PM

Piece co-owner Rick Nielsen performing with Miles Nielsen and The Rusted Hearts at the restaurant (Photo via the Piece Facebook page)

It seems neither BMI nor Sony are fans of Live Band Karaoke, a popular Saturday night event at Piece in Wicker Park. Both organizations have filed a joint lawsuit against Piece, claiming copyright infringement on the songs the live band performs when accompanying audience members perform karaoke. Both Piece and its primary owner Bill Jacobs have been named as defendants in the lawsuit.

The Sun-Times reports BMI claims they've reached out to Piece over 70 times—via phone, mail, visits to the establishment and email—to persuade them to purchase a license for public performance. According to BMI's website, "BMI issues licenses on behalf of the copyright owner or his agent granting the right to perform the work in, or transmit the work to, the public."

In layman's terms: if you want to play a song licensed by BMI in a public space you need to pay for the privilege.

On Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015 three of the songs the band performed were Weezer's "Say It Ain't So," Willie Nelson's "Crazy" and The Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Give It Away." It should be noted this writer does an amazing version of "Say It Ain't So."

It should also be made clear that Weezer, Willie Nelson and The Red Hot Chili Peppers are not named as plaintiffs, so don't get upset with them for harshing on this particular party.

We reached out to both BMI and Piece for further comment on the suit but haven't received a response from either party.

Of course the irony is that one of Piece's co-owners is Rick Nielsen—whose band Cheap Trick is also on the BMI roster, effectively meaning his licensing partner is suing his restaurant partner. D'oh!