Edward Stolz, owner of three California radio stations, has been ordered to pay more than $1.5 million in license fees, costs, attorney fees, and statutory damages to the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) and its members. Stolz failed to pay ASCAP license fees over several years, but continued to broadcast ASCAP member music over KFRH-FM, KREV-FM, and KRCK-FM. ASCAP sent pretermination notices June 2012 after failed efforts to collect money owed. The notice warned the stations not to play any ASCAP member works. On April 1, 2016, a group of ASCAP members filed suit against Stolz and his company, alleging that their music was infringed upon by the stations 11 times.
In March 2018, a jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs with statutory damages of $330,000 and in July, US District Judge Jesus G. Bernal awarded more than $900,000 in attorney fees and costs. In a separate ruling, US District Judge Denise Cote sided with ASCAP in denying the stations’ applications for licenses under ASCAP until they pay the organization more than $319,000 in license fees.
“Songwriters deserve to be fairly compensated when their music is performed, and those who use music without permission should be rightly held accountable. We are pleased both of these judges recognized songwriters’ value and have taken measures to protect their livelihoods,” says ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews.