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Musician Reaches Across Pond in Digital Fight

MANHATTAN (CN) - French and British courts must produce witnesses for a U.S. songwriter who wrote two tunes for Elvis and is engaged in a protracted legal battle with most of the digital music industry, a federal judge ruled.

In 2012, musician Norman Blagman sued Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and others for allegedly accepting and selling unlicensed works through aggregators, cheating thousands of artists of royalties.

Elvis Presley recorded two of his songs, "Put the Blame on Me," and "Give me the Right," and one of his tunes was used in the movie "The Producers," according to his lawsuit. Los Lobos, the Belmonts and Tiny Tim also have performed his tunes.

Blagman claims the retailers violated copyright on the tune "Jazz is His Old Lady and My Old Man."

Blagman says he learned during discovery that foreign record labels are helping the U.S. companies infringe upon his songs from before 1963, and karaoke recordings. He wants to question six British and French music executives and companies.

U.S. Magistrate Judge James Francis ruled this week that he would help secure these witnesses by issuing letters rogatory, a formal request to a foreign court for judicial assistance.

"The plaintiff's allegations center on a purported systemic failure by the defendants to ensure that the recordings offered for sale by the retailer defendants had all necessary licenses and authorizations," Francis wrote in a 23-page opinion.

Francis added that the expected testimony would be "central" to the retailers' contention that they obtained the appropriate authorizations.

Attorneys for both parties did not immediately respond to email requests for comment.

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