Lawsuit alleges Apple part of 'massive music piracy operation'

Posted:
in General Discussion
A new lawsuit claims that Apple and a music distribution company are involved in a "massive music piracy operation" to profit from re-recorded compositions.

A new lawsuit alleges that Apple is distributing pirated copies of popular songs and jazz standards via iTunes.
A new lawsuit alleges that Apple is distributing pirated copies of popular songs and jazz standards via iTunes.


Apple is no stranger to music-related lawsuits. In September 2019, a complaint alleged that the Cupertino tech giant profited from pirated recordings of music pulled from physical copies. Now, a similar lawsuit has Apple in the crosshairs again.

The lawsuit, filed Monday with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, accuses Apple and Adasam Limited of illegally reproducing and distributing more than 80 pirated recordings of musical compositions.

Adasam is a UK-based music distribution company that apparently has no visible internet presence. On the iTunes Store, it operates under imprint names like Blue Orchid, Six Week Smile and Atlantic Motion.

More specifically, the suit claims that Adasam is selling recordings by "virtually every well-known recording artist from the 1920s through the 1960s." The company's catalog is allegedly pirated, since the plaintiffs say it did not obtain the proper mechanical licenses to duplicate the recordings.

As for Apple's part in the alleged scheme, the complaint claims that the company contracts with Adasam to distribute its bootlegged catalog on the iTunes Store. In many cases, the allegedly pirated copies are offered in addition to legitimate duplicates offered by record labels.

In one case, a legitimate version of Lena Horne's "Stormy Weather" was being sold by RCA on the iTunes Store for $1.29, while a supposedly bootlegged copy was offered by Adasam for 99 cents.

The complaint also claims that Apple and Adasam "brazenly" pirated compositions for a series of greatest hits recordings, including copies of "virtually every prominent recording from the 1940s through the early 1960s." It adds that each entry in the series contains about 30 recordings that Apple and Adasam "have absolutely no right to sell."

"All of this should have made it obvious that Adasam is operating a huge music piracy operation," the suit reads. "Apple had actual knowledge of, or willfully chose to ignore, the evidence of piracy, and participated in the infringement on a massive scale."

Among the plaintiffs in the case are SA Music, The Harold Arlen Trust, the Ray Henderson Music Co. and the Four Jays Music Company. The latter plaintiff also filed the aforementioned lawsuit from September.

Combined, the plaintiffs wrote hundreds of popular songs and jazz standards. Harold Arlen, for example, co-wrote "Over the Rainbow," Harry Warren composed songs like "The Chatanooga Choo Cho" and "I Only Have Eyes for You," and Ray Henderson wrote "Bye Bye Blackbird," among others.

The complaint is seeking damages and legal fees, as well as a permanent injunction that would bar Apple and Adasam from allegedly infringing on the plaintiffs' copyrighted material.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 1,802member
    Money grab.

    It was Apple that transformed the industry away from rampant piracy, but some people seem to conveniently forget that fact.

    Beatsmwhite
  • Reply 2 of 18
    flydogflydog Posts: 948member
    Money grab.

    It was Apple that transformed the industry away from rampant piracy, but some people seem to conveniently forget that fact.

    How do you know this?  Did you review all the filings and evidence in the case?  Are you the judge or one of the attorneys? 



    bonobobfastasleepseanismorrisseanjbeowulfschmidtrevenant
  • Reply 3 of 18
    FatmanFatman Posts: 513member
    Apple is one of the few companies that (relatively) fairly pays musicians,.. I suppose the
    lawyers will work this out. The company that should really be in their crosshairs is Google - since you can literally listen to any song on YouTube without paying a penny. And even Spotify’s free tier allows you access to listen to millions of recordings.
    Beatsrevenant
  • Reply 4 of 18
    MisterKitMisterKit Posts: 418member
    It is pretty brazen if a legitimate copyright owner is selling a recording on iTunes and it is also for sale by another party at a lower price. 

    I don’t know the details or the law. It will be interesting to see where this goes.
  • Reply 5 of 18
    geekmeegeekmee Posts: 458member
    flydog said:
    Money grab.

    It was Apple that transformed the industry away from rampant piracy, but some people seem to conveniently forget that fact.

    How do you know this?  Did you review all the filings and evidence in the case?  Are you the judge or one of the attorneys? 



    It looks like common sense, is not so common.
    yojimbo007barthrh
  • Reply 6 of 18
    Who actually owns distribution rights to old songs seems to be ridiculously difficult to discover.  It’s more trouble than it’s worth for Apple to do so themselves.  It seems using Adasam was a mistake...

    This is really between 
    Adasam and those accusing them of piracy.

    I wonder how many of these songs were actually sold.  It’s more likely they were streamed on a Jazz channel or best songs of 19xx.

    Apple’s liability is likely minimal, though they might need get licenses all over again.  I doubt the mistake was bad faith on their part, and they can prove that.  
    Adasam on the other hand...
    bloggerbloglongpathMisterKit
  • Reply 7 of 18
    yojimbo007yojimbo007 Posts: 1,128member
    flydog said:
    Money grab.

    It was Apple that transformed the industry away from rampant piracy, but some people seem to conveniently forget that fact.

    How do you know this?  Did you review all the filings and evidence in the case?  Are you the judge or one of the attorneys? 



    I dont think you understand his comment at all ! 
    bloggerblogBeatsmwhite
  • Reply 8 of 18
    bloggerblogbloggerblog Posts: 2,020member
    flydog said:
    Money grab.

    It was Apple that transformed the industry away from rampant piracy, but some people seem to conveniently forget that fact.

    How do you know this?  Did you review all the filings and evidence in the case?  Are you the judge or one of the attorneys? 



    How do they know that Apple transformed the digital music industry away from piracy? Why does the comment require access to evidence for this case? Why would he needs to be a judge or attorney?
    Beatsmwhitetenthousandthings
  • Reply 9 of 18
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,306member
    flydog said:
    Money grab.

    It was Apple that transformed the industry away from rampant piracy, but some people seem to conveniently forget that fact.

    How do you know this?  Did you review all the filings and evidence in the case?  Are you the judge or one of the attorneys? 



    How do they know that Apple transformed the digital music industry away from piracy? Why does the comment require access to evidence for this case? Why would he needs to be a judge or attorney?

    Because judges and attorneys are the only honest people.

    /s
    mwhite
  • Reply 10 of 18
    Who actually owns distribution rights to old songs seems to be ridiculously difficult to discover.  It’s more trouble than it’s worth for Apple to do so themselves.  It seems using Adasam was a mistake...

    This is really between Adasam and those accusing them of piracy.

    I wonder how many of these songs were actually sold.  It’s more likely they were streamed on a Jazz channel or best songs of 19xx.

    Apple’s liability is likely minimal, though they might need get licenses all over again.  I doubt the mistake was bad faith on their part, and they can prove that.  Adasam on the other hand...
    Well, Apple’s liability might be minimal, but I know they really do want to pay artists their royalties, and I’m sure they don’t want to be like eBay and Amazon who look the other way when IP is violated. I can see Apple cutting off Adasam pretty soon and then negotiate directly with these first parties.

    longpath
  • Reply 11 of 18
    Google Music is mess for stuff like this. There are multiple copies of the same song under different Album and Artist names.

    Apple seems to keep much more organized in keeping authentic albums and  artists listed, but I assume some bad actors could still slip in. I would venture music from 1920 to 1960 is not monitored as closely.
    edited March 2020 numenorean
  • Reply 12 of 18
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,353member
    It does not help that pre 1972 sound recordings did not enjoy federal copyright protection in the US, and had to rely on state copyright regimes.   It seems Pres Trump signed a “music modernization act” in 2018 that “fixes” this though I suspect that most of this has been on iTunes since before this was done.  Quite a mess.  

    numenorean
  • Reply 13 of 18
    big kcbig kc Posts: 136member
    "Brazen". Who wrote this lawsuit, Michael Avenatti??
  • Reply 14 of 18
    seanjseanj Posts: 213member
    It’s about time.

    I see huge amounts of pirated Latin music for sale on iTunes, Amazon, etc. One well known pirate is Circulor, who are the same people behind the Rareza pirate CDs that have been around since the late 90’s.
    Occasionally they get pulled but in many cases the original label is defunct. Quality is often poor, obviously ripped from old vinyl.

    All the music retailers should check that what is being sold through their store is legal. Bricks and mortar stores wouldn’t be allowed to sell stolen goods, which is what pirate recordings are.
    edited March 2020 numenorean
  • Reply 15 of 18
    Fatman said:
    Apple is one of the few companies that (relatively) fairly pays musicians,.. I suppose the
    lawyers will work this out. The company that should really be in their crosshairs is Google - since you can literally listen to any song on YouTube without paying a penny. And even Spotify’s free tier allows you access to listen to millions of recordings.
    "Fairly" is a relative term, but Apple does pay "higher" than a lot of services. 

    Like YouTube, Apple doesn't pay a penny either, and neither does anyone else in the streaming market. They pay a lot less than a penny, .003-.008 or less on average (Most others pay around .001-.004 on average, except for Tidal which pays .006 - .008 on average). For iTunes sales, Apple keeps 30% of the sale, as with most things iTunes, then discount the cut for publishers and labels and you might get to the actual artist payment (independent artists still often use a publisher even when acting as their own label). YouTube pays an absurdly low amount per play, but they do pay. Spotify's free tier actually pays artists for listeners on their free tier, even if less than their paid tier (though quite a lot compared to YouTube) as does Deezer and some others that offer a free, advertising-based tier. 

    Just pondering...
  • Reply 16 of 18
    The filing mentioned in the article may be new, but the lawsuits regarding this specific form of piracy are not and they involve more than just Apple's streaming operations...also Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Pandora.

    https://completemusicupdate.com/article/two-more-estates-join-the-harold-arlen-litigation-against-apple-amazon-et-al/
    seanjbeowulfschmidtnumenorean
  • Reply 17 of 18
    j238j238 Posts: 8member
    Communications act of 1996 exempts internet platforms for liability for content from third parties. 
    Believe the "Apple should have known" argument is moot.  If it's not, then, "Youtube should have known..."    
  • Reply 18 of 18
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,308member
    flydog said:
    Money grab.

    It was Apple that transformed the industry away from rampant piracy, but some people seem to conveniently forget that fact.

    How do you know this?  Did you review all the filings and evidence in the case?  Are you the judge or one of the attorneys? 



    What part of coolfactor's comment said anything your comment relates to?  What he said is a fact.  He made no reference to this case what so ever.
    edited March 2020
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