SESAC Awarded Maximum Damages in Copyright Infringement Suit

By | December 4, 2002 at 12:00 AM

In an historic decision handed down by a federal jury in Pittsburgh, PA, SESAC has been awarded more than $1.2 million in damages, including the maximum damages on 6 songs, in a copyright infringement litigation. The verdict was returned against WPNT, Inc., the operator of radio stations WLTJ-FM and WRRK-FM in Pittsburgh, and its president, Saul Frischling.

In their complaint, SESAC and 15 affiliated music publishers alleged that on numerous occasions WPNT’s stations performed the music of SESAC-affiliated songwriters without authorization. SESAC sought statutory damages under U.S. Copyright Law Title 17 U.S.C. # 504 and charged willful infringement. The music involved in the case included 31 songs by SESAC affiliates Chico Debarge, Bob Dylan, Mannheim Steamroller, Peter McCann, William Becton, Albert Brumley, and Neil Diamond.

“We’re proud that the court and the jurors in this case, having heard all of the facts, chose to send the message that copyright infringement is a costly alternative to obtaining the appropriate license,” said Pat Collins, SESAC’s Senior VP, Licensing. “While litigation is not an attractive alternative and certainly not our preferred course of action, we have an obligation to protect the interests of our affiliated songwriters and music publishers. Our objective is to reach voluntary agreements with all music users.”

Established in 1930, SESAC is a service organization created to serve both the creators of music and music users through music licensing and timely, efficient royalty collection and distribution. The second oldest and fastest growing performing rights organization in the U.S., SESAC is known for its diversified repertory that includes genres ranging from Adult Contemporary, Urban, Jazz, Rock, Americana, Contemporary Christian, Latin, Country, Gospel, Dance, Classical and New Age. Headquartered in Nashville, the company also has offices in New York, Los Angeles, and London.

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