A lawsuit against Hattiesburg's popular restaurant and music venue The Bottling Company was filed in U.S. District Court Friday by 12 major music industry publishing companies.
The suit alleges copyright infringement, saying the venue violated the copyrights of Broadcast Music, Inc. and 11 other publishers by playing songs within the last year without the appropriate clearances.
Thursday afternoon a Bottling Company employee said the establishment's owner Mitchell Brown, who is named as the plaintiff in the suit, had not been served with a notice of the suit by the court.
T-Bone's Records co-owner Harry Crumpler says music licensing is often a gray area for venue owners who are often unclear on what needs to be licensed and what doesn't. But Crumpler who's been plugged into the Pine Belt music scene for decades says he has never seen a lawsuit like this brought against a local venue.
"It's rare for this kind of lawsuit. Probably, if I was going to guess, maybe the size of The Bottling Company being a larger venue contributed to it to being a target," said Crumpler. "The music, whether it be on the stereo, the radio, a CD, or even a band playing a cover song, it's licensed to the original artist."
The suit does not specify whether The Bottling Company played the songs the suit is focused on, or whether a band or entertainer playing at the venue covered the songs. The 12 songs mentioned in the suit include popular tunes by Merle Haggard, Jimmy Buffett and Johnny Cash.