Apple and others Sued for Selling Harold Arlen Songs like 'Over the Rainbow' from the 'Wizard of Oz' without Paying Royalties
The estate of Harold Arlen, who wrote classic songs like “Over the Rainbow” and “I’ve Got the World On a String,” is taking several Silicon Valley giants to court. Arlen's son told BBC News that he found more than 6,000 unauthorized copies of his songs on Google, Apple and Amazon’s devices.
A 148-page filing in US District Court in Los Angeles claims that streaming services are inundated with bootleg copies of Arlen’s songs, preventing his estate from collecting royalties.
The filing notes that a fan searching for Ethel Ennis’ recording of Arlen’s song “For Every Man, There Is a Woman,” can find the official recording from the RCA Victor label on iTunes for $1.29. But another version is apparently available on the Stardust Records label – with the same cover art but the RCA logo edited out – for only $0.89.
“It is hard to imagine that a person walking into Tower Records, off the street, with arms full of CDs and vinyl records and claiming to be the record label for Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, could succeed in having that store sell their copies directly next to the same albums released by legendary record labels, Capitol, RCA and Columbia and at a lower price,” Arlen’s lawyers say in the filing.
They continue: “Yet, this exact practice occurs every day in the digital music business where there is… a complete willingness by the digital music stores and services to seek popular and iconic recordings from any source, legitimate or not, provided they participate in sharing the proceeds.”
According to BBC News, some of the recordings cited by Arlen’s lawyers are still protected by copyright in Europe. In the US, the copyright for sound recordings made after 1923 and before 1972 is typically 95 years. In the UK and Europe, copyright expires after 70 years.
Beyond Apple, Microsoft, Google and Amazon, the estate is suing dozens of record labels alongside the online retailers, which it claims have "continued to work with" alleged pirates despite having knowledge of copyright infringement "for several years".
The lawsuit seeks damage in the range of $4.5 million. Read the full BBC report here.
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