Federal judges in Los Angeles and New York have ruled that Ed Stolz, owner of KFRH-FM, KREV-FM, and KRCK-FM in California, must pay ASCAP $1.5 million in license fees, costs, attorneys’ fees and statutory damages. ASCAP says Stolz failed to pay ASCAP license fees over several years.
California U.S. District Judge Jesus G. Bernal awarded more than $900,000 in attorney’s fees and costs in an infringement action filed by ASCAP on behalf of its members. That award, levied against Stolz, followed an earlier jury verdict in the case that found Stolz to be willful infringers and required him to pay $330,000 in statutory damages. Judge Bernal also previously issued an injunction blocking the stations from playing ASCAP members’ songs without a license.
In a separate proceeding, New York U.S. District Judge Denise Cote rejected the stations’ application for licenses under the ASCAP Consent Decree. Judge Cote, who serves as the ASCAP “rate court” judge, determined that the stations applied for ASCAP licenses in an attempt to stave off the consequences of Judge Bernal’s injunction. Because its Consent Decree allows ASCAP to refuse to license any music user that indisputably owes license fees to ASCAP under a prior license, Judge Cote concluded that the stations are not entitled to ASCAP licenses until they pay the organization more than $319,000 in license fees. Cote gave Stolz until July 20 to pay ASCAP if it wants to obtain ASCAP licenses for the three radio stations.
“Songwriters deserve to be fairly compensated when their music is performed, and those who use music without permission should be rightly held accountable. The decision by Judges Bernal and Cote affirm this basic principle,” said ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews. “While we prefer to work directly with licensees to ensure songwriters’ work is not infringed, we will take the necessary steps to protect our members’ rights. We are pleased both of these judges recognized songwriters’ value and have taken measures to protect their livelihoods.”