Thursday, September 21, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Thursday, September 21, 2023 | Back issues
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Major Record Labels Sue United Airlines

MANHATTAN (CN) - United Airlines willfully violates copyright by giving passengers on-demand, in-flight music it gets from two English programming companies, Arista, Sony and other labels claim in court.

Arista, Sony, Zomba and LaFace Records sued United Airlines, InFlight Productions and RightsCom, in Federal Court. InFlight and RightsCom are both based in London.

The record labels claim the defendants work "in concert" to load copyrighted music onto servers that are installed on United airplanes, "where they are used to transmit performances of plaintiffs' copyrighted sound recordings and music videos to passengers."

The copyright violations are for music recorded before 1972, the labels say. Thirteen pages attached to the complaint contain more than 600 songs whose copyrights the defendants allegedly violate, by artists including Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Aretha Franklin, Elvis Presley, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix.

In the lawsuit, the labels claim the defendants violated copyright on "thousands" of recordings, which cost the plaintiffs millions of dollars to produce and distribute. They call it "blatant violation" of federal and state copyright laws.

"Defendants do not have any license or other form of authorization from plaintiffs to reproduce or publicly perform any of plaintiffs' copyrighted sound recordings and music videos," the complaint states.

The plaintiffs seek disgorgement of unjust profits, statutory and compensatory damages for copyright violations and unfair competition, and costs. They are represented by Andrew Bart with Jenner & Block.

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