The war against illegally distributed karaoke continues
San Diego-based Bertrand Music Enterprises is the latest high-profile subject of a lawsuit in the continuing crackdown against illegally distributed karaoke tracks, according to an article published Wednesday (March 26) by the Nashville Business Journal.
Sony/ATV Music Publishing and affiliates have filed the lawsuit through the U.S. District Court for Middle Tennessee claiming that Bertrand sold and distributed thousands of karaoke tracks without first obtaining a licensing agreement.
While no numerical specifics have been reported, we do know that Sony/ATV, which is co-owned by the estate of Michael Jackson, has filed for an injunction, an unspecified amount in damages and profit loss, and separate statutory damages.
Public records show that the New York-based Sony/ATV has filed several claims against karaoke distributors in recent years, all centered around copyright issues. Bertrand Music Enterprises has yet to comment on the case.
Guys, there’s only one way to insure you don’t face legal issues regarding your karaoke library and that’s to make sure you’re using only legally licensed material. Rest assured that DigiTrax Entertainment and Karaoke Cloud will never steer you in the wrong direction. We’re here for you!
On the list the NMPA published is karaoke site Karafun. Lyrics are an integral part of any karaoke setup – if there’s no lyric scroll, it’s basically just a backing track. So it’s no surprise that a karaoke site got caught up in the dragnet.
As you can see by the screenshot below, Karafun is offering several songs by songwriters that are on the Karaoke No-Fly List. And there’s plenty more forbidden karaoke there, including The Eagles, Bruce Springsteen, and Dan Fogelberg.
Based in France, Karafun may be licensed to do business in the Eurozone, but without licenses in the USA, lyrics and karaoke sites can’ t legally do business here.
The sad part is, unlike a karaoke video-sync license, it’s not actually hard to get a lyrics license. Musixmatch and LyricsFind both offer quick and inexpensive ways to do so.
As long as lyrics sites are monetizing themselves with advertising or subscriptions, then they’re profiting at least in part from someone else’s work. Why not do the right thing and just buy the license already?
A professional karaoke jockey wrote us to ask about the No-Fly List of songwriters who don’t allow their tunes to be reproduced as karaoke:
How does it work when some of these people are on collections already purchased and in my library? Many of those big names are on Top Tunes and Sound Choice cdg’s. Was it legal at one point and then they changed their minds? Are previously purchased cdg’s grandfathered?
Yes, songwriters move onto and off of the No-Fly List occasionally. For instance, Adele recently rescinded her allowance for karaoke after much product was already released to the market and moved on the list. Another major songwriter is about to move off the list (can’t say who or when yet). There are some songwriters who are okay to karaoke with one publisher, but who subsequently moved to a different publisher that doesn’t allow it, and vice versa.
Our legal team is of the opinion that if the songs were licensed at the time you purchased the songs, you should be okay (bear in mind this is an opinion and not established law or precedent). This can be very problematic in practice, however – how can you know that the song was licensed at the time of purchase, since no karaoke company is in the regular habit of disclosing their licensing deals?
The only sure way we know of to be completely clean is to not play any of the songwriters on the list. It is our hope over time to encourage as many songwriters as we can to remove their names from the list, through strong revenue growth that demonstrates to the songwriters that karaoke is no longer the “wild, wild west”. It’s the only way we can see to accommodate your singers, the songwriters, the KJs and the karaoke companies.
Karaoke Cloud is where karaoke discs go when they die.
Music listeners continue flocking to online cloud-based delivery systems, and DigiTrax Entertainment is betting that the professional karaoke jockey and the casual karaoke fan will too.
A report from research outfit The NPD Group released earlier this year cited data gathered from 13- to 35-year-olds indicating that free and subscription-based streaming music services accounted for almost one quarter of those consumers’ average weekly music listening time, up from 17 percent in the previous year.
“When you think of American rock legends, Bon Jovi is near the top of the list, but he refuses to license his songs for karaoke use in the United States. It’s ironic,” Karaoke Cloud CEO Joseph Vangieri said regarding the rock and roller’s karaoke ban.
World Wide Digital Entertainment, LLC and Piracy Recovery, LLC, have opened fire in the first of what promises to be a long series of lawsuits, alleging copyright and trademark infringement by 37 hotels, taverns, bars, restaurants and individual KJs, in two separate legal actions in the Knoxville and Tri-Cities metro areas. The full story with video (sorry, no embed) on the WATE-TV website can be found here.
These suits mark the first foray by the two companies into the seemingly-endless series of legal actions aimed at curbing the spread of pirated karaoke. The psychology of the effort seems pretty clear-cut – it’s basically the carrot and the stick, or more specifically, the carrot or the stick.
As cheap as it is to access huge libraries, and either tether them to a system or stream them on demand, it is getting more and more difficult to understand the attractions (and risks) of pirating karaoke.
When you deal with a topic as polarizing as karaoke (wait, did we just say that?), you gotta expect to get the occasional nastygram. Here’s one that came over the wires just yesterday regarding the upcoming Karaoke Summit (more details on that tomorrow).
“It’s amazing the amount of sheer nonsense that Karaoke generates. The greed factor in the publishing world is absolutely ridiculous. Everyone has their hands out. Karaoke is a form of entertainment, and you people, with your lawsuits and the greed of everyone in music business is destroying a harmless activity. The people who sing these Karaoke tracks are not professional singers. For the most part, they are drunk people just looking to have some fun!! They aren’t making money, unless they are winning contests. The hosts make a nominal fee, especially now-a-days, and the bars sell drinks. GET OFF OUR BACKS!!