Thursday, March 23, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Music Streamers|Go 7 for 8 in NorCal

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Of eight class actions against music-streaming services filed this year in San Francisco, only a case against Sony has survived.

In January and February, eight lawsuits in California's Northern District were filed against various companies, including Apple and Google, accusing them of illegally streaming songs that were recorded before 1972. All but one have been voluntarily dismissed.

In the active case, Zenbu Magazines accuses Sony Computer Entertainment America and Sony Entertainment Network International of streaming "tens of thousands" of songs on its Music Unlimited platform without licenses.

Zenbu seeks compensatory and punitive damages of "many millions of dollars" for misappropriation, conversion, and violations of California business law and of California Civil Code §980(a)(2).

The string of cases came on the heels of a victory by Flo and Eddie (The Turtles), who sued SiriusXM in August 2013, and won summary judgment in September 2014.

Federal law protects only music written after Feb. 15, 1972, but the Turtles - like Zenbu now - claims that their recordings are protected under state law.

Though court documents don't reveal why the other cases were dismissed, one reason could be because the music on the accused platforms came through catalog-wide licenses, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Jack Fitzgerald, who filed four cases on behalf of Zenbu in January, did not want to comment on the surviving case.

Michael Lehmann, who filed four similar cases in February on behalf of Beach Road Music, did not return calls and messages.

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.