A federal court jury in Virginia has rendered a verdict of $276,000 against the owners and operators of WOLD-FM, a radio station based in Marion, Virginia, for its unlicensed broadcast of copyrighted songs represented by the performing rights organization SESAC, Inc. T.E.C.2 Broadcasting and its sole shareholder and president, Thomas E. Copenhaver, have also been permanently enjoined from performing music in the SESAC repertory without a license. The plaintiffs will also seek to recover their attorneys’ fees and other costs of the suit.
At the close of the two-day trial, district court judge James P. Jones ruled as a matter of law that T.E.C.2 had willfully violated the copyrights in question, and that Thomas E. Copenhaver was personally liable for the infringement, leaving only the issue of damages for the jury to decide. The evidence showed that upon taking control of the station in 2008, T.E.C.2 and Copenhaver had entered into a SESAC radio broadcasting performance license, but that they had allowed the license to be terminated for non-payment in 2010, falsely claiming at the time that they did not use SESAC music in their programming.
SESAC’s Senior Counsel of Licensing Operations, Jonathan Farmer, stated that, “Lawsuits are the absolute last resort for SESAC when all other avenues of compromise and reason have failed. SESAC is willing to work with any unlicensed radio station to secure proper authorization and avoid a copyright infringement lawsuit which will cost the station considerably more than simply obtaining a SESAC license agreement.”