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Apple and Others Accused of ‘Massive Music Piracy’ by Estate of ‘Over The Rainbow’ Composer

Apple and Others Accused of ‘Massive Music Piracy’ by Estate of ‘Over The Rainbow’ Composer

A 148-page lawsuit accuses Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Pandora of being involved in a “massive music piracy operation.” The estate of Harold Arlen – the composer of Over the Rainbow and many other classic songs – is suing the tech firms.

The Verge reports the case claims the companies are selling pirated versions of the songs and albums written by the composer, alongside the licensed versions. The lawsuit claims there is evidence to support the claim.

It’s possible to see some of the unauthorized versions cited in the lawsuit in online stores. For example, there are two copies of the album Once Again… by Ethel Ennis available to stream on Apple Music, but the cover of one has been edited to remove the RCA Victor logo.

In another case, we can see a clear price difference between two digital copies of an original cast recording of the musical Jamaica being sold on Amazon. What appears to be an authorized version from the Masterworks Broadway label prices the full album at $9.99 for download, and individual tracks for $1.29, while a seemingly unauthorized copy from Soundtrack Classics lists them for $3.99, and $0.99 respectively. Like the Ethel Ennis album, the RCA Victor logo on the unauthorized cover also appears to have been edited out.

In a less credible claim, the lawsuit says Apple and other defendants were not only aware of the piracy, but were motivated to permit it. (Via Forbes)

The lawyers for Arlen claim that the online retailers “have had knowledge of their own infringing conduct and that of the many of the pirate label and distributor defendants for several years, and have continued to work with them.” “The more recordings and albums the online defendants make available in their stores and services, the better they are able to attract buyers and subscribers,” they explained.

Obviously, the companies involved in the lawsuit would not knowingly offer pirated content in their online music stores and streaming services. However, such a claim makes the lawsuit potentially more lucrative.

The lawsuit is seeking to end the alleged copyright infringement and is also seeking damages of over $4.5 million, which are damages allowed under the federal copyright statute.

“Over the Rainbow” is the best-known song referenced, but it also involves numerous other songs composed by Arlen. His works include songs for Blues in the NightStar Spangled Rhythm, and the 1954 remake of A Star is Born.

(Photo by Harry Quan on Unsplash)