The Washtenaw Voice reports that a popular weekly music event at the Jolly Pumpkin, the popular Ann Arbor restaurant, has been shut down to copyright issues. Performers were informed by Jolly Pumpkin management that the event violated rights held by ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. ASCAP represents artists who hold performance rights; by performing songs whose rights are held by ASCAP clients, the musicians at the Jolly Pumpkin were infringing the exclusive right granted under copyright law.
ASCAP informed Jolly Pumpkin management that even if artists only performed original music, that would still infringe the rights of ASCAP’s clients. It’s unclear to me how that might be the case; let us know if you have any theories on that issue. In the mean time, some of the Jolly Pumpkin musicians perform at the Blue Tractor a few blocks away; Blue Tractor has a license with BMI, an organization similar to ASCAP.