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Ellen chat show sued over unlicensed music spot

By | Published on Friday 11 September 2009

Perhaps ironically, given her new appointment as a judge on American Idol (see media news below), all four majors grouped together this week to sue producers of ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ claiming the TV types had used more than 1000 songs on the show without the copyright owners’ permission.

It seems that the DeGeneres chat show includes a segment where the host dances from the stage to the interview area of the studio to tunes played by an in-house DJ. The problem is the show hasn’t got any licence to play such music during the show. In their lawsuit, filed at the US District Court in Nashville on Wednesday, the labels claim that when they approached the TV show’s producers about their failure to get a licence for the music used in the ‘dance over’ segment of the show, said producers told them they didn’t “roll that way”, which may or may not be true, but is a rather amusing response either way.

According to Billboard, the legal papers claim “recordings by virtually every major current artist of popular music” has appeared in the unlicensed telly spot. Whether that includes any American Idol winners, or Syco signed artists, I don’t know. The lawsuit says: “As sophisticated consumers of music, the defendants knew full well that, regardless of the way they rolled, under the Copyright Act, and under state law for the pre-1972 recordings, they needed a license to use the sound recordings lawfully”.

The lawsuit doesn’t name DeGeneres herself, but is aimed at the show’s producers, Telepictures Productions. They said in a statement yesterday that they had been “working with the record labels for months” to try and reach a settlement on this issue.