Lawsuit alleges Apple involved in 'flagrant' music piracy on iTunes

Posted:
in General Discussion edited April 2020
Apple has been hit with another lawsuit alleging that the company is distributing pirated re-recordings of musical compositions through iTunes for profit.

A handful of composers, or groups that represent them, have filed another lawsuit accusing Apple of music piracy.
A handful of composers, or groups that represent them, have filed another lawsuit accusing Apple of music piracy.


The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, names several plaintiffs that have levied similar complaints against Apple in the past year, including The Harold Arlen Trust, Ray Henderson Music Company and Four Jays Music Company.

As in those previous complaints, the plaintiffs accuse a music distribution firm of illegally re-recording music pulled by physical companies and providing the content to Apple. The Cupertino tech giant, for its part, is accused of profiting from those illegal recordings through iTunes sales.

In this case, the distribution company is a UK-based outfit named Pickwick, which operates under other label names like Cool Note, Foyer, Hallmark and Leverage.

More specifically, the complaint focuses on the fact that these recordings were allegedly made without any parties obtaining the necessary "mechanical licenses" to do so. It calls the distribution of those re-recordings a "huge music piracy operation."

"The scope and flagrant nature of Defendants' piracy cannot be understated," the complaint reads.

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

Along with damages and legal fees, the plaintiffs are asking for a permanent injunction barring the defendants from infringing on the copyrighted material.

spheric

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 17
    noelosnoelos Posts: 118member
    "The scope and flagrant nature of Defendants' piracy cannot be understated,"

    And I could care less.
    bernleckie
  • Reply 2 of 17
    evilutionevilution Posts: 1,397member
    noelos said:
    "The scope and flagrant nature of Defendants' piracy cannot be understated,"

    And I could care less.
    Couldn't.
    gatorguyfastasleeppscooter63macxpresscharlesatlascincytee
  • Reply 3 of 17
    sphericspheric Posts: 2,092member
    No, he cared enough to comment...
    lkruppentropysrazorpitcincyteecornchipkiltedgreen
  • Reply 4 of 17
    It's odd to me that almost every (every?) one of these "iTunes is pirating my music" lawsuits seems to come from artists (or their representatives) that have 1) older music or 2) nearly unheard of music or 3) a combination of the previous two. I'm not saying that invalidates their claims by any means. How come we don't hear that sort of thing from current big name artists?

    Edit: Incidentally, it also seems that these are the artists that iTunes/Apple would be earning the least from. What is the incentive for Apple to be pirating music (at all, really) that likely isn't played/purchased very much?
    edited April 2020 pscooter63jony0
  • Reply 5 of 17
    steven n.steven n. Posts: 1,222member
    It's odd to me that almost every (every?) one of these "iTunes is pirating my music" lawsuits seems to come from artists (or their representatives) that have 1) older music or 2) nearly unheard of music or 3) a combination of the previous two. I'm not saying that invalidates their claims by any means. How come we don't hear that sort of thing from current big name artists?

    Edit: Incidentally, it also seems that these are the artists that iTunes/Apple would be earning the least from. What is the incentive for Apple to be pirating music (at all, really) that likely isn't played/purchased very much?
    It has more to do with the labyrinth which is the rights management of the music industry. There are so many pieces from recording, song writing, to performance to ... and every party gets a chunk. Then holders die and the rights get spilt off to other people. Some of those will sell their parts to various holding companies which think they own 100% of the specific part of the rights but actually only own 70%. 15% went to Company XYZ, 7% went to Company ABC and the remaining 8% still sits in some unknown state.

    Then the 7% wonder realizes this and it is called "flagrant" copy right infringement because you are missing some aspect of the rights to distribute the song.
    mdriftmeyerbaconstangrazorpitcincyteecornchipkiltedgreenjony0ravnorodomspheric
  • Reply 6 of 17
    seanjseanj Posts: 255member
    It's odd to me that almost every (every?) one of these "iTunes is pirating my music" lawsuits seems to come from artists (or their representatives) that have 1) older music or 2) nearly unheard of music or 3) a combination of the previous two.
    The pirates go for niche music genres in the hope they won’t get caught. Pirate music from a main stream international superstar on a huge label and you can bet that label will slap Apple with a desist letter pronto. But pirate music from a niche genre, perhaps originally published on a label long gone bust, and possibly performed by an artist, and you’re probably going to get away with it.
    Sure the sales will be small, but they’ll build over time, and they won’t get taken down.

    I dj in Latin music, predominantly salsa/mambo if the 1960’s and 1970’s. It’s a big scene. And there’s a significant amount of pirate music in the genre. There’s a label called Circulor that you’ll see against a lot of “The Best of ...” anthologies. It’s a pirate label based in Columbia.
    The musicians/songwriters see none of the money paid on iTunes for these songs.
    jony0ravnorodom
  • Reply 7 of 17
    entropysentropys Posts: 3,106member
    That is interesting. So why don’t they write to Apple with proof of ownership and just ask them to remove the music? 
    Or have they and Apple ignored them?

    otherwise it just looks like vulture lawyer activity.
    edited April 2020 jony0
  • Reply 8 of 17
    fordeefordee Posts: 29member
    In most countries of the world, Bye, bye blackbird is out of copyright (50 years after artist who wrote it died). In any case, their beef is with the recording artist, not the publisher.
    jt327girspheric
  • Reply 9 of 17
    chasmchasm Posts: 2,391member
    Actually, their real beef is with Pickwick, the company that is allegedly re-recording copyrighted music without a license, but if the plaintiffs can prove that Apple knew or should have known that the arrangement was illegal, then Apple's on the hook as well (oh and good luck getting any money from Pickwick).

    I suspect the publishers will have a very hard time proving Apple knew and looked the other way ... all distributors have to present licensing to show that they are authorized to represent and distribute the music they offer, and so Apple likely has receipts for that.

    It's also quite questionable if the plaintiffs are owed any royalty/license money at all given the age of the copyrights, and it would appear that most of the "piracy" they're claiming is in fact simply cover versions of the songs by well-known and unknown artists, so ... um ... I'm not sure their lawyers know what "piracy" means, legally if they think that (for example) Israel Kamakawiwoʻole's cover of "Over the Rainbow" could be considered "piracy" even if the distributor of that cover did indeed fail to get the proper licensing.
    nikon1jony0
  • Reply 10 of 17
    nikon1nikon1 Posts: 17member
    In this case it seems to be that the Plaintiffs know there’s no $$$ to be had from Pickwick, so we’ll go after “Deep Pockets” Apple.
     
    jony0
  • Reply 11 of 17
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    steven n. said:
    It's odd to me that almost every (every?) one of these "iTunes is pirating my music" lawsuits seems to come from artists (or their representatives) that have 1) older music or 2) nearly unheard of music or 3) a combination of the previous two. I'm not saying that invalidates their claims by any means. How come we don't hear that sort of thing from current big name artists?

    Edit: Incidentally, it also seems that these are the artists that iTunes/Apple would be earning the least from. What is the incentive for Apple to be pirating music (at all, really) that likely isn't played/purchased very much?
    It has more to do with the labyrinth which is the rights management of the music industry. There are so many pieces from recording, song writing, to performance to ... and every party gets a chunk. Then holders die and the rights get spilt off to other people. Some of those will sell their parts to various holding companies which think they own 100% of the specific part of the rights but actually only own 70%. 15% went to Company XYZ, 7% went to Company ABC and the remaining 8% still sits in some unknown state.

    Then the 7% wonder realizes this and it is called "flagrant" copy right infringement because you are missing some aspect of the rights to distribute the song.
    You can’t replay the original Beavis and Butt-Head show because of stuff like this. I consider myself lucky having the Young Ones on DVD. Who knows how much longer those musical numbers will remain in them.
  • Reply 12 of 17
    mike1mike1 Posts: 2,738member
    razorpit said:

    You can’t replay the original Beavis and Butt-Head show because of stuff like this. I consider myself lucky having the Young Ones on DVD. Who knows how much longer those musical numbers will remain in them.

    Oh, The Young Ones. That brings back memories. Used to LMAO at that show, long before typing LMAO was a thing.
  • Reply 13 of 17
    noelos said:
    "The scope and flagrant nature of Defendants' piracy cannot be understated,"

    And I could care less.
    Indeed. I think they meant something else!

    If the scope is so big that any attempt to describe it is an understatement, then it cannot be overstated. But if it’s so piddlingly trivial that anything you say would be an overstatement... you get the idea. 
  • Reply 14 of 17
    razorpit said:
    You can’t replay the original Beavis and Butt-Head show because of stuff like this. I consider myself lucky having the Young Ones on DVD. Who knows how much longer those musical numbers will remain in them.

    Fans of the Odd Couple show from the early 1970s consider the DVD versions butchered because many episodes have scenes removed due to music licensing issues.
    spheric
  • Reply 15 of 17
    cincyteecincytee Posts: 343member
    seanj said:
    There’s a label called Circulor that you’ll see against a lot of “The Best of ...” anthologies. It’s a pirate label based in Columbia.
    I assume you mean Colombia, the country, not Columbia, a U.S. city?
    ravnorodom
  • Reply 16 of 17
    Opinions may be this or that but legally the mechanical rights holders are entitled to 70 years protection after the death of the last composing artist, and for registrations predating 1978 this can go up to nearly a full century. The plaintiffs talked to Pickwick a lot, than to Apple about it, and no one did nothing for whatever undisclosed reason, so this is ultimately a question of wether a person or company has the right to defend its rights - which does seem so out of fashion these days - against corporations. A bigger player contesting the system with more money to put in may just pave the way for fairness to the rest of us, as.. .. most importantly.. this unfortunately happens a lot to many more artists (actually the great majority) who left a legacy to their kids and grandkids but - because the system is such that it often costs so much more to do anything about it legally -, corporations are effectively as-licensed to steal. No matter our admiration for companies - and i owe so much to Apple and especially Steve Jobs -, it is important to remember that most of us better think before defending the Sheriff of Nottingham as he will never ever care about us and will be out to get you next if you dont stand down your rights. Our beloved Apple barely survived Microsoft blatantly doing the same, and now it Sherlocks so much that lots have lost their livelihoods.. but all do this, especially Amazon with AWS (like Elastic Search) - all big companies steal.. it is nice to get a free new something but it always comes back to us if we dont choose our sides right.
  • Reply 17 of 17
    jrg_ukjrg_uk Posts: 52member
    I’d forgotten all about the existence of Pickwick records, and that got me thinking: what was their original MO when it came to recording those well known songs but with session musicians?

    Wikipedia was an interesting read, but imagine my surprise to learn that their back catalogue is now owned by Universal Music!
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