Musicians Take on Major Movie Studios

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – Canadian and U.S. musicians and composers sued the major movie studios Tuesday for reusing sound tracks without paying musicians, in violation of a collective bargaining agreement.
     Wage rates and other budget factors have contributed to a massive move of movie music from Los Angeles to Canada in the past decade. Composers and studio musicians have uprooted themselves and moved north, often to British Columbia, in search of work.
     On Tuesday, the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada sued the six biggest U.S. film studios in Federal Court: Columbia Pictures, Paramount, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal City Studios, Walt Disney Pictures and Warner Bros.
     The union claims the studios “routinely” reuse music and sound tracks in clips longer than the union agreement allows and without paying for it.
     Among the offending movies were “Titanic,” “Die Hard” and “The Breakfast Club,” and a host of TV shows, according to the lawsuit.
     The union says the collective bargaining agreement allows studios to use up to 2 minutes of music from another movie in a soundtrack – but must pay the musicians for it. The fees are $1,500 for up to 1 minute of music and $750 each for each 30-second period after the first minute, according to the complaint.
     Sound clips may be reused with footage of the original movie for a lower fee: $750 for up to 1 minute and $375 for each of the two following 30-second periods.
     The agreement requires studios to pay musicians when studios license clips of music to other entities for TV shows and movies.
     But the studios refuse to pay musicians for music they reuse, and use more than 2 minutes of some songs, according to the complaint.
     The union says it only knows of only a tiny fraction of the studios’ “unreported, improper and uncompensated reuse of theatrical motion picture music sound tracks.”
     Hundreds of musicians have been cheated of wages since 2010, according to the complaint.
     The union demands damages for breach of contract. It is represented by Lewis Levy with Levy, Ford & Wallach, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
     Columbia Pictures did not return a phone call requesting comment.

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