ASCAP has filed 29 separate copyright infringement lawsuits against nightclubs, bars and restaurants in 22 states and D.C. The defendants have publicly performed the songs of the performing rights organization's songwriter, composer and music publisher members without a license.

ASCAP says it reached out to the owners of each establishment repeatedly over "a significant period of time" to license them before taking this legal action, but each of them failed to license the music while continuing to play it.

"By filing these 29 actions at the same time, ASCAP is aiming to heighten awareness among music users and the public that it is a federal offense to perform copyrighted music without permission," says Vincent Candilora, ASCAP senior VP of licensing. "ASCAP's priority is to serve as a voice and advocate for its more than 315,000 members who are essentially the smallest of small business owners. ASCAP not only has a right to collect license fees from the users of music, but it also has a responsibility to its members to ensure they are adequately compensated for their hard work."

Nearly 90% of the license fees ASCAP collects are paid as royalties directly to it members. The balance covers ASCAP's operating costs.

"Using music is a vital part of the total service that businesses offer, both in attracting customers and driving more revenue," says Candilora. "By accepting an ASCAP license, business owners can legally use music in ASCAP's popular and ever-increasing repertory."

Owners of the following establishments are the named defendants: Brookside Sports Bar & Grille, Surprise, Ariz.; Bar 330, Brea, Calif.; Paulie's Upper Deck, Redondo Beach, Calif.; Frankie's Too!, Falcon, Colo.; The Guards / Griffin Room, Washington, D.C.; Matilda's Pub & Barbie, Newark, Del.; Ultra Lounge, West Palm Beach, Fla.; Best Western - Sea Breeze Lounge, Fernandina Beach, Fla.; Wrigleyville North, Chicago, Ill.; Ice Lounge, Indianapolis, Ind.; Tin Alley Grill, Framingham, Mass.; The Quarter Bistro & Tavern, Ann Arbor, Mich.; Scott's 1029 Bar, Minneapolis, Minn.; Parrot's Sports Bar, St. Peters, Missour; Black Tie Nightlife, Raleigh, N.C.; Dexter's, Riverdale, N.J.; One, New York, N.Y.; Cannon's Black Thorn Inn, Rockville Centre, N.Y.; Fireside Inn, Port Crane, N.Y.; Club Majestic, Tulsa, Okla.; Emerson's Pub, York, Penn.; Charleston Beer Works, Charleston, S.C.; Chattanooga Food & Drink, Chattanooga, Tenn.; Drillers, Houston, Texas; Pat's Pub, The Colony, Texas; Vette's Sports Grill, Odessa, Texas; Five 01 City Grill, Virginia Beach, Va.; The Flame, Spokane, Wash.; and Long Wong's, Milwaukee, Wis.