Lawsuit alleges widespread distribution of unauthorized copies on streaming and downloads

Several tech and music companies have been named in a new lawsuit that aims to tackle digital distribution of unauthorized recordings. The legal action was brought by the estate of Harold Arlen, a legendary composer best known for the classic “Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz. His estate claims that many players in the digital music economy are knowingly distributing unauthorized copies of more than 6,000 unauthorized recordings, both for by download and by streaming. Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Pandora were all named in the suit.

The Verge highlighted a few examples of albums with multiple versions available in online platforms. One is the album Once Again… by Ethel Ennis, which has two versions to stream on Apple Music. The original version is present alongside a version with the RCA Victor logo removed from the cover. The second example gets to the heart of the matter, with the original cast recording of the musical Jamaica from label Masterworks Broadway for sale by digital download for $9.99 from Amazon. A second version, again with no RCA Victor logo and listed from Soundtrack Classics, is sold from Amazon for $3.99.

“It is hard to imagine that a person walking into Tower Records, off the street, with arms full of CD’s and vinyl records and claiming to be the record label for Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, and Ella Fitzgerald, could succeed in having that store sell their copies directly next to the same albums released by legendary record labels, Capitol, RCA, and Columbia, and at a lower price,” the lawsuit reads.

Anna Washenko