Apple called 'modern tape pirate' in copyright lawsuit

Posted:
in General Discussion edited September 16
Apple and two music distribution companies with which it contracts were labeled as "modern tape pirates" in a copyright infringement lawsuit last week, with the plaintiff claiming iTunes currently sells at least 98 recordings without a proper license.

iTunes


The complaint from Four Jays Music Company, filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California last Friday, asserts Apple and its cohorts profit from pirated music authored by composer Harry Warren.

Warren in 1955 founded Four Jays Music to protect his vast collection copyrighted works, many of which went on to become standards. Performed by prominent artists over the years, Warren's compositions include "The Chatanooga Choo Choo" and 81 Top-10 hits including "At Last," "I Only Have Eyes for You," "Jeepers Creepers" and "The Gold Diggers' Song (We're in the Money)."

According to the suit, Apple reproduced and distributed pirated recordings of Warren's owned compositions through contracts with Orchard Enterprises and Cleopatra Records, the latter of which operates under a variety of labels including Goldenlane Records, Magic Gold Records, Master Classics and more. Orchard and Cleopatra are thought to be two of the largest content providers on iTunes, with Cleopatra media accounting for some 1% of the service's entire music catalog, the suit claims.

Instead of obtaining so-called "mechanical licenses," which require express consent to duplicate and distribute recordings from the copyright holder, Cleopatra supposedly duplicated the music and offered it to Apple through Orchard contrary to proper copyright procedure.

As explained in the complaint, "virtually all" asserted recordings were produced between 1930 and 1972. Due to mass consolidation in the music industry, the recordings have since landed in the back catalogs of Sony, Universal and Warner, before Cleopatra was established. As Cleopatra did not "fix" the original recordings, nor did it attempt to negotiate a mechanical license for the same content, it offered and continues to offer the compositions illegally.

Four Jays concedes one or more defendants might have sought a license through the Harry Fox Agency or a compulsory license via services like Music Reports. However, pirated music, as defined in the case, does not qualify for protections offered under those licensing terms.

Each party targeted in the complaint is alleged to have known about infringing conduct for "several years." Apple in particular is singled out for willfully failing to employ "adequate human resources, screening mechanisms, or use of digital fingerprinting technology" to detect illegal duplicates, tools it applies to other services.

Four Jays seeks a permanent injunction against Apple and the two distributors, damages and legal fees. The court sent a notice regarding policies on alternative dispute resolution (ADR) options to all parties on Monday.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 23
    I am sorry but if I see aol.com as email address, I cannot take that case seriously.
    lollivermobirdviclauyycrazorpitcoolfactorStrangeDays
  • Reply 2 of 23
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,464member
    When you got money somebody is always trying to take it from you. This is the first and last time we will ever hear about this. Apple will pay them a few grand to go away and that will be that. Are they suing Spotify too?

    Calling the company who saved the music industry from rampant piracy a pirate? That’s a stretch.
    lolliverchaickamwhiteradarthekatsuperklotonStrangeDaysjony0
  • Reply 3 of 23
    Music copyright is a mess. You wright it, he records it, they put out the record, someone else converts it to a download or a stream. Everyone is entitled to a cut right down to the backup horn player that played one note. Unless of course someone along the way signed away their rights or bought the rights from someone else, or inherited the rights from their long lost uncle Friggy who arranged the piece. Add a few mergers and acquisitions, and copyright expirations, and it's damn near impossible to know who owns what. Somebody comes to you with a document saying they have the rights to this song, would you put it on iTunes, how the hell are you to know if it's real, fake, a partial ownership, or what?
    edited September 16 seanismorrismobirdviclauyycrazorpitchaickawonkothesaneEsquireCatsradarthekatcincyteerandominternetperson
  • Reply 4 of 23
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,105member
    We're talking about 98 recordings that have been performed and probably recorded by all sorts of artists over the years. Apple can only deal with what they are given. How many songs are in Apple Music? Apple says 45 million so there's bound to be some that get through without proper documentation.

    "... "virtually all" asserted recordings were produced between 1930 and 1972" Are recordings covered by copyright forever? We're talking about the last recording done 47 years ago when everything was done on paper and microfilm. 

    I glanced through the complaint and they're talking about the old music file sharing cases and bootleg copies of music. Give me a break, this music is old and Mr Warren died in 1981 so decedents or someone else is trying to continue to get money off of Mr Warren's work. 
    razorpitchaickaradarthekatsuperklotonStrangeDaysllama
  • Reply 5 of 23
    DAalseth said:
    Music copyright is a mess. You wright it, he records it, they put out the record, someone else converts it to a download or a stream. Everyone is entitled to a cut right down to the backup horn player that played one note. Unless of course someone along the way signed away their rights or bought the rights from someone else, or inherited the rights from their long lost uncle Friggy who arranged the piece. Add a few mergers and acquisitions, and copyright expirations, and it's damn near impossible to know who owns what. Somebody comes to you with a document saying they have the rights to this song, would you put it on iTunes, how the hell are you to know if it's real, fake, a partial ownership, or what?
    This answers all your questions ^^^^^

    Apple would need an army of lawyers to figure out who owns what.  My question is: Did they contact Apple first to get this resolved or did they go directly to a lawsuit?  It’s not really a big deal that this is going to court... besides wasting the courts time.  They should have brought in an independent arbitrator...
    razorpitchaickasuperkloton
  • Reply 6 of 23
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,104member
    I don’t know the details but 1972 is the magic year for music copyright with regard to sound recordings.  Don’t know how it applies in this case but they called out that date.    
  • Reply 7 of 23
    I didn’t realize that that song originated with the Gold Diggers movie. I know Ginger Rogers sings it at the beginning but I thought that song had been around before then.
    philboogie
  • Reply 8 of 23
    It's almost as if the plaintiff's lawyers are completely unaware of the Music Modernization Act (MMA) of 2018.
    EsquireCatsradarthekat
  • Reply 9 of 23
    I think to label someone a pirate, you need to prove they have motivation. Why would Apple be motivated to bypass licensing on a mere 98 recordings, out of millions? Do you think it's possible that some may slip through the cracks, and that Apple is not technically at fault for any wrongdoing?

    Isn't there a procedure to report problems, or must they jump to a lawsuit?

    arlomediaradarthekatsuperkloton
  • Reply 10 of 23
    netrox said:
    I am sorry but if I see aol.com as email address, I cannot take that case seriously.
    Get out of my yard!

    superklotonmelodyof1974FileMakerFeller
  • Reply 11 of 23
    I think to label someone a pirate, you need to prove they have motivation. Why would Apple be motivated to bypass licensing on a mere 98 recordings, out of millions? Do you think it's possible that some may slip through the cracks, and that Apple is not technically at fault for any wrongdoing?

    Isn't there a procedure to report problems, or must they jump to a lawsuit?


    When a lawsuit can potentially get you a lot more than the pennies you get for licenced streams, the answer to these gold diggers is obvious.
  • Reply 12 of 23
    This kind of lawsuit shouldn’t be possible unless they provide a proof that they contacted Apple first and they refused their request... 
    superkloton
  • Reply 13 of 23
    DAalseth said:
    Music copyright is a mess. You wright it, he records it, they put out the record, someone else converts it to a download or a stream. Everyone is entitled to a cut right down to the backup horn player that played one note. Unless of course someone along the way signed away their rights or bought the rights from someone else, or inherited the rights from their long lost uncle Friggy who arranged the piece. Add a few mergers and acquisitions, and copyright expirations, and it's damn near impossible to know who owns what. 
    There are a few different aspects of a recording that entitles someone to royalties -- basically writing and recording -- but not arranging, playing on the track or converting between formats. Those people could possibly have negotiated a deal to share royalties with the copyright owners, but there's no law requiring that and it would be more common to pay a one-time fee for those services. Mergers and expiration dates can make it complicated, but probably not the "everyone gets a piece of the pie" scenario you described.
    ronnuraharacincyteerandominternetperson
  • Reply 14 of 23
    Sounds to me that if anyone is infringing on copyright, it's Cleopatra. And it's not even necessarily that they are wilfully infringing, they may believe, correctly or not, that they do have a license to distribute this music; this music has been around long enough it's passed through a number of hands. 

    The complaint against Apple, if it is properly summarised in the article, is ridiculous. The idea that Apple should be able to find out that less than a hundred of the 50 million or so tunes they have on iTunes doesn't have a proper license, despite I'm sure signing contracts with Cleopatra in which that company asserts they do have the correct rights just because .. it's Apple .. stretches credulity. 
    superkloton
  • Reply 15 of 23
    HAHAHAHA. 

    Modern Day Pirate! 

    98 Recordings....out of tens of millions......

    Get bent, jog on!
    superklotonStrangeDays
  • Reply 16 of 23
    dewmedewme Posts: 2,198member
    rols said:
    Sounds to me that if anyone is infringing on copyright, it's Cleopatra. And it's not even necessarily that they are wilfully infringing, they may believe, correctly or not, that they do have a license to distribute this music; this music has been around long enough it's passed through a number of hands. 

    The complaint against Apple, if it is properly summarised in the article, is ridiculous. The idea that Apple should be able to find out that less than a hundred of the 50 million or so tunes they have on iTunes doesn't have a proper license, despite I'm sure signing contracts with Cleopatra in which that company asserts they do have the correct rights just because .. it's Apple .. stretches credulity. 
    Of course the claims directly against Apple, the assertion that Apple acted maliciously, and comparing Apple to a lowlife music pirate are completely ridiculous - but it doesn't really matter. All it takes is the perception that there is at one drop of blood in the water to get the shark pack of opportunists and lawyers circling their potential prey. In this case the real prey is a minnow (Cleopatra) but the minnow's relationship with a whale (Apple) is too much to ignore. Of course they're going to go after the whale. However, I've also seen it go the other way with patents, where the sharks will attack the minnow because they know the whale will come to the minnow's defense.

    Follow the money.

    But there could be an alternative but complementary explanation:  https://www.instructables.com/id/Duct-Tape-Pirate-Ship/
    edited September 17
  • Reply 17 of 23
    rob53 said:
    We're talking about 98 recordings that have been performed and probably recorded by all sorts of artists over the years. Apple can only deal with what they are given. How many songs are in Apple Music? Apple says 45 million so there's bound to be some that get through without proper documentation.

    "... "virtually all" asserted recordings were produced between 1930 and 1972" Are recordings covered by copyright forever? We're talking about the last recording done 47 years ago when everything was done on paper and microfilm. 

    I glanced through the complaint and they're talking about the old music file sharing cases and bootleg copies of music. Give me a break, this music is old and Mr Warren died in 1981 so decedents or someone else is trying to continue to get money off of Mr Warren's work. 
    Mr. Warren's heirs are indeed trying to continue to benefit from his work. They may be entitled to it. The trail of music rights is convoluted and contradictory. The courts can decide that.

    What I don't understand is the implication here that that this is just "old music" and therefore somehow isn't entitled to legal protection. Is "old music" somehow no longer entertaining or creative? The attitude is deeply troubling, especially to someone who works at bringing to life the creative work of people dead for centuries.

    New compositions are currently protected for the life of the composer plus 70 years. Rules vary for works (like these) created before 1978. (Read for yourself at https://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap3.html.) 
  • Reply 18 of 23
    Why does Appleinsider bothers with articles like this, everyone here always ignores the possibility that Apple may be wrong and blindly defends Apple then insults the plaintiff with mean girl ferocity
  • Reply 19 of 23
    I don't think many if any will care if Apple removes those gems from the library.  They could just send the guy a .50 cent royalty check every month lol.
    superkloton
  • Reply 20 of 23
    I suspect Apple has an indemnification clause in all their agreement with the record labels and distributors which basically saying the record label will cover any legal costs associated with any lawsuit brought against Apple due to content which is owned and distributed by the record label. Apple can not be held responsible for other people wrong doing and no court will find against Apple unless the other side can prove that Apple knowingly sold content which did not have proper licensing. I also suspect that Apple agreements say the record lable declairs they have all necessary rights and licenses to any content they whish to distribute through iTunes. Apple's Lawyer will turn this case over to Orchard Enterprises and Cleopatra Records lawyers and tell them to make it go away or pay and be done with it.
    edited September 17
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