Starting a small Tavern in rural Northern California. Barley and Hops Tavern catalogs the trials and tribulations of the restaurant biz, and teaching wine country to love beer.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Foolish fools, ASCrAP, and the great hunt

One thing I like about small towns, besides the earthiness conveyed when telling someone that you're from a small town, are the quirky festivals. Sure, Geneva on the Lake, near Cleveland has the Grape Jamboree, Gilroy has it's Garlic Festival, and Punxatawnee, PA has Groundhog Day, and Camden, NJ has the annual "New Potholes on the Garden State Parkway" Jubilation.

Occidental has the Fools' Day Parade.

Located in Downtown Occidental, (which is like saying the East Wing of a studio apartment), the streets...er...single road is blocked off so that scantilly clad hippies, crazies, zanies, kids, riffos, and pop-a-squeals (I made up some of those), come out of the woodwork to dress up in silly hats and attire (mainly fish this year), and dance to marching bands and floats. It's a several-hour event with lots of live music, and hungry/thirsty patrons. We had our favorite local band, Peanut Butter and Jam play, outside on our smallish deck, as well as Kosuke spin the best indie music you've never heard of. Which brings me to ASCAP.

ASCAP is an acronym for: Draconian Trade Organization, Hellbent on Raping Small Businesses.

Basically, they represent musicians and composers and make sure that people pay for the rights when profiting off of their copyrighted creative work. Fair enough. We like that. It makes us happy, and gleefull, and also warm and squishy, and also happy. And Joyfull. Anways, the problem is that, without conducting any actual research, they try and bill small businesses (who may not be aware of the copyright act provisions protecting small businesses), whether or not they have actually violated the law.

A small pub is allowed to turn on the radio or TV if it is below a square footage and speaker number, under what we call the Homestyle Exemption. Without checking, ASCAP assumes I'm liable because I have live music (I allow only originals) and have a radio. I don't owe them anything. If I do DJ's, I can pay a FAR smaller amount (a few hundred a year). Fine. Covers Karaoke too. Neat. But I got a bill for thousands of dollars which I don't owe. If I hadn't gone to lawschool, I'd have probably payed it also. I explained the situation to the (befuddled) lady from ASCAP, and she relented, telling me I only need to pay a small fraction for unlimited rights to have DJ's.

This sort of nonsense hurts small businesses.
It hurts 'Merica.
It kills kittens.
Yeah that's right. Every time ASCAP wrongfully sends out a letter like this, a kitten spontaneously poofs out of existence.

Also, we're hiring an experienced line-cook! See our CL ad before appling
http://sfbay.craigslist.org/nby/fbh/1114795658.html

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