Thursday, October 8, 2015

Cherokee files bankruptcy petition

The owner of the Cherokee Inn threw in the towel and filed a chapter 7 bankruptcy petition on September 23. BMI sued Hayes McMillan and his restaurant last year over alleged copyright violations. Mr. McMillan closed the Cherokee in May but that did not satisfy BMI. BMI hounded the Cherokee in court after it closed for damages related to the playing of several songs by a cover band without BMI's consent. Earlier post with copy of lawsuit and more information on BMI lawsuit.


BenBit said...

I read the earlier articles on this and wondered if it was really BMI pushing it to this level or if the attorney's simply had a blanket authorization to push cases like this as far as they wanted.

Could it be a case of a local law firm just continuing to try to squeeze an obviously tapped out business just to bill more hours to BMI? I don't know, just wondering.

Anonymous said...

shame shame shame on BMI and every attorney involved. Bring back the Cherokee without the Juke Box. What has this world become?

BenBit said...

Honestly, based on my last few experiences at the Cherokee, I don't think BMI was the problem, even if it was a last coffin nail.
That said, these lawsuits are complete BS in my opinion. And I miss the Cherokee of the 90's

1962guy said...

Any idea on the "penalties" for allowing 5 songs to be played in a bar?

Are we talking the death penalty, or a speeding ticket?


Pack Up The Cherokee in Mori Luggage said...

Deflection. The Cherokee didn't close due to a BMI lawsuit. It closed because it was a greasy, nasty, stinky, mushy-carpet venue that was dark, dank and smelly. And, moreover, because everybody knew it.

As soon as I left that place I could not wait to get in my car and grab the container of hand sanitizer and head home to shower.

BMI my ass!

Anonymous said...

Cherokee's heyday was long ago. BMI or no, I'm not surprised they shut down. However, this chasing a corpse strategy that BMI is employing is stupid. It's like locking up a coffin in the jailhouse. They might get a few bucks, but they're doing this to scare others. McMillan is a scapegoat.

Anonymous said...

ROFL...I remember when the Cherokee relocated and the criticism was that everyone missed the "shabby ambience" of the original location.

Wouldn't surprise me if 1962 guy and Benbit were among those critics as well!

The Cherokee stayed busy throughout and it's not like the health department closed them down.

Way to kick someone when they are down.

Les Remy Niss said...

6:12; This blog is not a column for memorial comments like the funeral homes now operate on the internet. If you don't want to read real opinion, fact and criticism, perhaps this is not the place for you to visit.

Another thing about The Cherokee and others of that generation: People no longer en masse seek out dark venues where they can drink beer and look across the booth into the eyes of their girl. There is too much modern competition and nicer ambiance for that.

And no longer do a bunch of guys leave work for this type of venue. Now it's the lit-up sports bars with thirty television sets and lots of boobs. And good menues, quick service and waitresses with their natural teeth, many of whom carry on a conversation above an eighth grade level.

The days of sitting on a bar stool, staring up at a plastic simulation of Budweiser Clydesdales and Falstaff clocks are of the past generation, which included me. We don't want to hear the floor creak and pop any more because our bones do that for us. We don't want our beer in a mug covered in fingerprints. And we don't want a plastic menu that's got snot and last week's ketchup dried across the front of it.

Anonymous said...

Cherokee didn't pay for an inexpensive license to play music, period.

Anonymous said...

"Lots of boobs". I agree. The bigger the better. Ample and then some.

Anonymous said...

Hey 7:46, since you know everything and speak for all people, could you please weigh in on the current situation in Syria as well? I'm sure the world leaders are waiting to hear from you.

Bill Dees said...

What 7:58 said. Performance of copyrighted materials without a license is theft.

Anonymous said...

Cherokee didn't play music, bluegrass band did. Cherokee didn't charge cover, and the charge was cherokee benefited from music the band played.

Anonymous said...

Well, honestly, 7:46, I'm probably as old as you. But I've never felt the need to go into the Cherokee - or anyplace like it. Ditto for "modern sports bars". I have better things to do, and better things to think about, than sitting, drinking, and watching sports and waitresses. Funny thing about booze: it makes you fat and ugly. You cannot drink your way into looking like the guys in the beer commercials.

For me, it was Wendy's drive-thru, on the way to the gym. And I haven't voluntarily listened to "The Greatest Hits of the Seventies", since the Seventies. But that leads me to a question, 7:58. Are you saying that Cherokee could have paid a NOMINAL sum, which would have given blanket coverage to the venue, for most music performed or played on-premises?

Anonymous said...


So? If the had customers, they benefitted. Otherwise, why play the music. They're responsible for the music performed in their restaurant. This is not a fair use case. If you don't pay someone to use their music, then you're breaking a law and are subject to a suit.

If I was giving MP3s away on my website, but not profiting, it wouldn't have made it any less of a violation. It's not mine to give.

The BMI license starts around $1k a year. And they accept payment plans. You can license music via Pandora for $50 per month if you don't want to pay that. It's just silly not to get licensed.

Anonymous said...

"Lots of boobs". I agree. The bigger the better. Ample and then some.

Those were the days here at JJ.

Anonymous said...

Statutory damages for each copyright violation start at $10,000.00ea attorney fees.

5 songs @ $10,000.00ea = min $50,000.00.

BenBit said...

7:46 AM
I think you nailed it very eloquently, and I acknowledge that my missing the 90's Cherokee is probably more about missing the me of the 90's. Younger, healthier and better looking.

6:12 AM
You called me out for possibly being a critic of the Cherokee's new location, which I never was. I will say the service was simply bad the last 3 times I went there, but I did keep giving it a try. At least until it took about 15 minutes for the owner (I found out later) to fish me a single beer out of the cooler when I was one of 5 people sitting at the bar. With the issues it now seems he was dealing with, I can understand him being distracted.

In general, I wish for no ill to come to any business because I know how difficult it is to run one. That said, once a business has failed I don't think it is piling on to point out problems you noticed. Hopefully if the owners read this, they will take it constructively.

My initial comment here was about the frivolity of the BMI action, not tearing down the Cherokee. No matter what legal grounds support that suit, it really amounts to nothing more than a shakedown of a struggling business and they could walk away from it. I think they should have, they were not harmed in any meaningful way at all and they will get no money. The law firm was simply wasting BMI's money and they know it.

BenBit said...

If anyone here knows, I think it would be interesting to hear how these violations get to a law firm for action. My assumption would be that they have investigators (not sure that is the right term) who go into establishments offering live music who BMI knows haven't paid the fee and they collect evidence of the violation? Is that close?

Anonymous said...

i totally understand protecting the artists so that they receive royalties. what i don't understand is why it is the establishments duty to do this for a live band. how does the bar or venue know what is on the set list? is it the owner's duty to review the set list prior to the band starting up? seems like this places a burden on the owner of the venue when it should really be on the band.

Anonymous said...

The big scam of BMI is that the artists dont get the money. If the fees were getting to the original artists, I might be sympathetic. But BMI has for decades been shaking down establishments for this "nominal fee" by threatening the big penalties of a lawsuit, and the money stays with BMI for their operations. Cherokee - as I understand it - was paying the fee from the jukebox. The allegation/lawsuit from BMI was for music being played by bluegrass group.

Anonymous said...

These lawyers should be ashamed of themselves for accepting this case. There is nothing more affirming as a lawyer (yes, I am one) than to tell a potential client you are not taking the case because you are personally offended at their strict enforcement of its rights. In short, you don't want your name associated with the lawsuit. Of course, there are situations with long-time clients where you bend that a bit due to the years of representation in matters that pass the smell-test and they are in a tight spot. But, I seriously doubt BMI was a long-time client with a constant flow of other legal work for this law firm.

No, my bet is that the BMI cases tend to be one-offs and you don't hear from them again. No telling how many other firms rejected BMI before this group took the case. As Kingfish said to Amos, "Shame on you!"

Anonymous said...

A lawyer ashamed of him/her self? Now THAT is funny.

BenBit said...

Glad and thankful to see an attorney, saying what many of us think all the time. There are lots of things which can be litigated, but many of them just shouldn't be litigated.

Unfortunately, we have WAY to many attorneys and the law schools keep trumpeting there growth.

Just say NO to more litigation and more law students.

Anonymous said...

3:32 BMI charges a blanket fee for any song whose publishing they handle. This allows any entertainer to perform any of BMI's songs (a million? more?) without paying any other fee. This protects a club owner from worrying about any particular song a performer might perform.

BMI apparently does not have the wisdom the average five-year-old has, since in this case they have killed to goose that lays the golden eggs. I suspect they will get nothing out of the Cherokee's bankruptcy proceedings.

In Conclusion .... said...

Don't you people see? This is not about The Cherokee or BMI realizing an award at trial. It's all about sending a message. The Cherokee is not even a pimple on the face of the earth's surface to BMI. But, this sort of news (and there are many others in the cross-hairs) will get around and people will start paying what they owe. Period.

PS: Stop with the damned deflection. This place would have closed with or without the BMI action. It was destined. It had run its course. Say it with me...RIP.

Anonymous said...

Quality of food went down at Cherokee and better options exist. Owner got divorced and could not afford to keep it. Period. People left.

BMI Suit?

I realize you all want to bash lawyers for your own reasons (ex-wife caught you cheating and her lawyer called you out....and made you pay his legal bill, you got sued for something else, or you are just a band wagon hater....whatever.....when you need one you will seek out the nastiest meanest one you can find).

The actual truth is that Cherokee agreed to a settlement and then refused to abide by it. This caused the law firm to look bad to its client BMI. That means he/she had to go after Cherokee to make Cherokee pay up or pay x dollars to file bankruptcy.....which it did.'

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar folks.

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