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Bad note: Phoenix-area bar faces $90K suit for illegally playing music

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PHOENIX — A Phoenix-area bar is being sued for $90,000 for allegedly playing certain songs illegally.

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers said Whiskey Rose Bar and Grill inside Glendale’s Westgate Entertainment District has played several songs repeatedly without the proper license.

After the bar refused to comply with requests to not play the songs, ASAP sent an investigator. ASCAP Vice President Jackson Wagener said the bar was playing three songs illegally, one of which was Michael Jackson’s hit “Thriller.”

“Everyone knows that the song was recorded by Michael Jackson, but it was actually written by a guy named Rod Temperton,” Wagener said, adding that ASCAP’s job is to make sure Temperton receives royalties when the song is played.

ASCAP represents over 500,000 songwriters across the country.

“Our primary goal, as an organization, is to ensure that songwriters are properly compensated when they songs that they’ve created are performed publicly,” Wagener said.

Wagener said Whiskey Rose is also not licensed to play “Summer Nights” from the movie “Grease” or “Country Boy,” which is written and performed by Alan Jackson.

“Despite the fact that we reached out numerous times over several years to offer them the opportunity to obtain a license, they continue to perform our members’ music there without permission,” he said.

If Whiskey Rose wanted to license the songs, Wagener said it would have cost about $2,400 per year. Licensing costs vary on the size of the venue and the frequency the songs are played.

Wagener said the suit seeks damages of $30,000 per song, totaling $90,000.

Whiskey Rose has not responded to interview requests.

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