Suits filed in 15 states and District of Columbia.

ASCAP filed 30 copyright infringement lawsuits today (July 13) against nightclubs, bars and restaurants for playing songs written by members of the performing right organization without securing public performance licenses.

While such lawsuits have been criticized by local media and establishments in the past as pitting a New York corporation against small businesses, ASCAP's director of general licensing Vince Abbatiello says, "Individual songwriters and composers are the ultimate small business people, working on their own with limited opportunity for sustained success. Many business establishments don't realize that ASCAP operates on a non-profit basis and that 86% of their license fee goes directly to ASCAP members."

ASCAP hopes that the suits, filed in 15 states and the District of Columbia, will create an awareness among music users and the general public that playing their members' music without permission violates federal copyright law.

"Taking legal action is always ASCAP's last step in a long process of contacting, informing and educating business establishments," Abbatiello says. "With many of these cases, the process has been going on for over a year, so they have had plenty of time to do the right thing."

Earlier this year, ASCAP launched copyright infringement actions against 24 establishments in 15 states and the District of Columbia. In 75% of those cases, settlements were reached or are currently being negotiated.