Composer Richard Rodgers objects to the sound of music -- his own -- at an Old Town Alexandria restaurant.
Rodgers, the estate of his late partner, Oscar Hammerstein II, and several other individuals and music companies have filed suit against the Fish Market restaurant at 105 King St., alleging that performances there of such songs as "The Sound of Music," "Stormy Weather," "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "Stardust" violate federal copyrights.
The restauranths owner, Ray Giovannoni, denies that the musicians his establishment employs performed the songs in question. Rather, he said, they perform only "old-timey" songs that have passed into the public domain and therefore require no license from their owners in order to be performed.
Rodgers and the other plaintiffs in the suit are all members of the American Society of Composers, Artists and Performers (ASCAP), which permits organizations to perform copyrighted songs by its members in exchange for a fee. An ASCAP attorney said the fee in the case of Giovannoni's restaurand would be about $450 a year.
ASCAP representatives visited the Fish Market last Aug. 13, according to the suit filed in federal court and heard a half-dozen protected songs being performed without a license. The suit asks for at least $250 for each alleged copyright violation.
"In this world of ours, as soon as you start making a few bucks, everybody's after it," declared Giovannoni. "I say we don't play any ASCAP songs and we're going to court to prove it."