Saturday, October 20, 2018
Business

Tampa’s Club Skye profits from music but doesn’t pay for it, suit says

TAMPA — Club Skye, Tampa Bay’s best known hip-hop club, is accused of playing music for years without paying for it.

In a suit filed this week in federal court in Tampa, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers is alleging copyright infringement by the club at 1509 E. 8th Ave. in Ybor City.

"This has been going on for a number of years. It has never been licensed by ASCAP and in fact we’ve been repeatedly reaching out to them to offer a license that would allow them the right and ability to play our members’ music," Jackson Wagener, ASCAP’s vice president of business and legal affairs, said today. . "They’ve never done so and they continue to play music’’ without a license."

The club, which has hosted live performances by Lil Wayne, Nas and other top rappers, has not returned a call or text for comment.

ASCAP operates as a nonprofit membership association that represents more than 625,000 independent songwriters, composers and music publishers. It licenses the public performances of their songs, collecting licenses fees and distributing nearly 88 percent of those fees to its members.

"Many are essentially small business owners," Wagener said, "so they rely on royalties obtained from those performances to put food on the table, to pay their rent."

The suit does not say how much ASCAP wants from Club Skye but the organization typically asks for two or three times what the annual license fee would be, multiplied by the number of years of unlicensed use of music.

Based on its 350-person occupancy, occasional live performances and the fact it charges a cover, the club probably could have gotten an ASCAP license for around $2,600, or $13,000 over five years, Wagener said.

That means "we might be seeking something along the lines of $30,00 or $40,000," he said. "Courts routinely award (on that formula) and the rationale is that it can’t be less to avoid your obligation than to simply comply."

RELATED COVERAGE: Tampa Bay businesses are sued for playing copyrighted music without paying fees

The legal action against Club Skye is ASCAP’s first in at least six years against any Tampa Bay establishment, federal court records show. BMI, another major music-licensing organization, has sued more than 20 bay area bars, clubs and restaurants in recent years.

The unusual nature of the ASCAP suit "goes back to our point, which is that we make every effort over a course of years to get establishments like Club Skye to do the right thing," Wagener said. "We owe an obligation not just to our members but also other establishments that are licensed by ASCAP."

Contact Susan Taylor Martin at [email protected] or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate

Comments
Hurricane Michael’s effect on timber industry ‘catastrophic,

Hurricane Michael’s effect on timber industry ‘catastrophic," Adam Putnam says.

Hurricane Michael’s enduring legacy could include long-term damage to Florida’s timber industry. While experts try to get a handle on the carnage, state Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam said Friday that preliminary estimates peg it ...
Published: 10/19/18
Updated: 10/20/18
Florida’s unemployment rate falls to 3.5 percent while Tampa Bay’s rate plunges to 2.9 percent

Florida’s unemployment rate falls to 3.5 percent while Tampa Bay’s rate plunges to 2.9 percent

Florida’s economy is continuing to hum along, according to September employment numbers released Friday. The state’s unemployment rate dropped to a mark last seen in February 2007 — 3.5 percent, down from 3.7 percent in August.And compared to a year ...
Published: 10/19/18
Jeff Vinik invests in another tech startup focused on health and wellness

Jeff Vinik invests in another tech startup focused on health and wellness

TAMPA — Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik has made a series of investments in companies focused on health, wellness and technology in industries ranging from construction to medicine, and from fitness to radiation protection.He’s at it again. This...
Published: 10/19/18
Is the annual pass worth it? As Disney changes pricing system, we help you decide

Is the annual pass worth it? As Disney changes pricing system, we help you decide

Though costly, annual passes at Disney World, Universal, Busch Gardens and other parks can sometimes be a smarter choice. You just have to know what you’re getting.
Published: 10/19/18
Tampa’s Oxford Exchange one of nation’s 50 most beautiful independent stores

Tampa’s Oxford Exchange one of nation’s 50 most beautiful independent stores

TAMPA — Architectural Digest has named Tampa’s Oxford Exchange as Florida’s most beautiful independent store — and one of the 50 most beautiful in the nation. Opened in 2012 in a onetime stable, the exchange a at 420 W. Kennedy Blvd. includes a resta...
Published: 10/19/18
After Hurricane Michael, a hunt for surviving oysters in Apalachicola

After Hurricane Michael, a hunt for surviving oysters in Apalachicola

APALACHICOLA — T.J. Ward’s phone rang. Service had improved in the days since Hurricane Michael. "Get another scrub brush and a squeegee,"he told his sister. "The littlest one you can find." The Ward family’s 13 Mile Seafood Marke...
Published: 10/19/18
A new Earth Fare is coming to Lutz this winter

A new Earth Fare is coming to Lutz this winter

Times Staff Writer LUTZ — Earth Fare will open its third location in Tampa Bay this winter, continuing to expand the area’s growing organic grocery market.Earth Fare entered Tampa Bay in 2016 with a location in Seminole and then opened a second in Ol...
Published: 10/19/18
Is Tampa Bay finally seeing signs of a buyer’s market? Soaring September sales hint at it

Is Tampa Bay finally seeing signs of a buyer’s market? Soaring September sales hint at it

Bucking a national trend, sales of single-family homes soared by double digits in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Hernando counties in September.That dramatic increase, coupled with minor price increases, suggests that a real estate market that has favore...
Published: 10/19/18
Aldi unrolls grocery delivery through Instacart across Florida

Aldi unrolls grocery delivery through Instacart across Florida

Savvy Tampa Bay shoppers may have already noticed Aldi pop up in their Instacart app earlier this month, but the discount store officially announced its delivery expansion across Florida this week.Instacart is a delivery service that allows shoppers ...
Published: 10/19/18
Tuna-gate: StarKist admits fixing prices, faces $100 million fine

Tuna-gate: StarKist admits fixing prices, faces $100 million fine

StarKist Co. agreed to plead guilty to a felony price fixing charge as part of a broad collusion investigation of the canned tuna industry, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday.
Published: 10/19/18