US media giant Viacom has put forward proposals for an out of court settlement regarding allegations of slack sync rights licensing by its Black Entertainment Television, or BET, network.
Viacom was responding to a class action lawsuit launched by LA-based independent label owners and music publishers The Music Force back in 2009, which claimed BET had synced music from the indie’s catalogues into some of its programmes, including ‘BET Impressions’ and ‘Jazz Visions’, without getting the appropriate licenses.
As a class action, if The Music Force was to win the lawsuit any label or publisher who believed its content had also been used without licence could claim damages. Under the proposed settlement, Viacom would set aside $2.75 million to pay affected rights owners, and set up a website to allow those who believe they are due unpaid royalties to make a claim.
In the main, sync licensing is not covered by collective licenses available from collecting societies, and in the US that includes TV sync. Viacom’s proposed settlement needs approval from the judge overseeing this case before The Music Force’s lawsuit is formally dismissed.