It was a classic piece of music industry journalism: Rapacious Big Music beats up on hapless Little Guy, with The Artist, who just wants to make ars gratia artis, caught in the middle.
This time, Big Music was ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, which collects licensing royalties for songwriters, composers, and music publishers. The Little Guy was a humble Irish bar called Connolly's Pub & Restaurant. And The Artist was none other than New Jersey's own "rock & roll working-class hero," Bruce Springsteen.
As first reported by the New York Daily News, The Boss sued Connolly's last week for copyright infringement after the bar allegedly failed to obtain a license from ASCAP to publicly perform his songs, including "Growin' Up" and "Because the Night." But shortly after the story about the lawsuit broke, Springsteen's flacks claimed it was all a big misunderstanding, blamed ASCAP, and said he was ditching the suit.
"ASCAP was solely responsible for naming Bruce Springsteen as a plaintiff in the lawsuit," said a Feb. 4 statement from his PR reps at Shore Fire Media. "Bruce Springsteen had no knowledge of this lawsuit, was not asked if he would participate as a named plaintiff, and would not have agreed to do so if he had been asked. Upon learning of this lawsuit this morning, Bruce Springsteen's representatives demanded the immediate removal of his name from the lawsuit."
Sorry, Boss, but if you say you really believe all that, then it won't be you that's on fire—it will be your pants. And since small-time songwriters rely on big-timers like you to enforce these copyright protections, you shouldn't try to back out of this lawsuit anyway. (As of this writing, Springsteen still hadn't withdrawn.)
Please go read the whole thing.
Update: Bruce really did bail. Plaintiffs filed a First Amended Complaint Feb. 5, which was just made available on PACER today. The complaint is now completely Springsteen-rein. Isn't that unusual? My recollection is that the caption (which originally included Springsteen) stays the same even after amendment, unless a change is ordered by the court. Am I wrong?And another civ. pro. conundrum: the sole remaining plaintiff is now Clinton C. Ballard, Jr. D/B/A Beardog Pub. Co. But Ballard apparently died in 2008. Can he still be a plaintiff?Ballard v. 121 W. 45th St. Restaurant