Cover band lawsuit settled for $40,000 | VailDaily.com
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Cover band lawsuit settled for $40,000

Steve Lynn
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL ” A former local club owner reached a $40,000 settlement Wednesday with several famous musicians who sued him for allowing cover bands to play their songs at 8150.

Steven Kovacik, former owner of 8150, called the settlement unfair.

“I don’t think it’s fair for one show, are you crazy?” Kovacik said.

Van Halen Music Company and Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and Patricia Bonham were all named as plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed Feb. 16 that contended Kovacik allowed public performances of their songs at 8150. The lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Colorado, named Kovacik as a defendant.

Bands like Lez Zeppelin, an all-female Led Zeppelin cover band who played 8150 Jan. 15, 2006, should be held responsible for copyright infringement, Kovacik said.

“The band is touring, making money off of Led Zeppelin’s music,” he said. “Why should I be the one responsible to pay when Lez Zeppelin is the one playing the music?”

That’s not how the law works, said Alan Stewart, manager for Lez Zeppelin.

If stores or concert venues publicly play songs registered with the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers ” even on a stereo ” they have to pay a licensing fee, he said.

“The club owner should know that,” Stewart said. “He is just trying to spin the story. It’s a little bit easier for them to point to Lez Zeppelin, but they could point to any number of bands on their calendar.”

ASCAP employs representatives to travel to malls and concert venues to look for those breaking the law and the organization sues hundreds around the country each week, he said.

8150 has closed. Kovacik’s lease expired and the building will be torn down to make way for the Solaris complex, he said.

Kovacik has refused to accept a license offered to him many times by ASCAP, said Richard Reimer, an attorney for the organization.

Kovacik said ASCAP never offered him a license. If it did, he would have paid the $5,000 dollars for one to avoid litigation, he said.

“Do you think I would have let this go on for that long?” Kovacik said. “I’m not a complete and utter idiot.”

Kovacik committed copyright infringement because he allowed bands to play 10 copyrighted songs Jan. 15 and 16, 2006, at 8150, the lawsuit says.

The plaintiffs were suing for as little as $750 per song and as much as $30,000 per song, plus attorneys’ fees, according to court documents.

Kovacik allowed public performances of songs such as “Heartbreaker,” “Whole Lotta Love,” “Rock and Roll” and “Black Dog,” written by Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and other members of Led Zeppelin; “Hot for Teacher,” written by Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth of Van Halen; and “You Shook Me all Night” written by AC/DC members Angus Young and Malcolm Young, according to the lawsuit.

The defendants failed to obtain a license agreement from the plaintiffs or ASCAP, according to the lawsuit’s final judgment.

Public venues that play ASCAP registered songs, which number in the millions, need to pay an annual fee for a license to do so.

Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or slynn@vaildaily.com.


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