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Sony and Universal Face Class Action Lawsuits From Artists Seeking Ownership of Their Music

Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group are facing new class-action copyright infringement lawsuits filed by artists seeking ownership of their music, Music Business Worldwide reports. The lawsuits against the two labels—viewed by Pitchfork—were filed on February 5 by the New York Dolls’ David Johansen, John Waite, Southside Johnny, the Nerves’ Paul Collins, and Joe Ely.

The lawsuits cite Section 203 of the Copyright Act of 1976, which gives recording artists the opportunity to terminate grants of copyright ownership 35 years after a recording’s initial release. The lawsuits state:

But while the Copyright Act confers upon authors the valuable “second
chance” that they so often need, the authors of sound recordings, in
particular, who have attempted to avail themselves of this important
protection have encountered not only resistance from many record
labels, they have been subjected to the stubborn and unfounded
disregard of their rights under the law and, in many instances,
willful copyright infringement.

The class action lawsuits assert that hundreds of musicians have served Notices of Termination to Sony and Universal while the labels have “routinely and systematically refused to honor them.” They seek damages for copyright infringement and declaratory relief.

“This behavior must stop,” attorney Evan S. Cohen said in a statement. “The legal issues in these class action suits have never been decided by a court, and are of paramount importance to the music industry.”


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