Ellen boogies into copyright lawsuit

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Ellen boogies into copyright lawsuit

Fri Sep 11, 2009 @ 09:49AM PST
By Eriq Gardner

We know she can dance. And apparently she can judge singing competitions. But how can Ellen do in court?

We might soon find out. Several of the biggest record lables claim that producers and distributors of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" have violated the copyrights of more than a thousand sound recordings by failing to get the proper license for songs played during different portions of the show, including the immensely popular dance sequence that follows the opening monologue. 

Contacted by the plaintiffs about its failure to obtain licenses, the producers allegedly replied they "did not roll that way."

Here's the complaint that treats the new judge on "American Idol" as if she were a dancing Napster machine.

The "Ellen" show is produced and distributed by Time Warner, Telepictures, Wad Prods, and A Very Good Production, all co-defendants in the case.

Warner Bros. Records is one of the plaintiffs in this action, along with Sony, UMG, Arista, Atlantic, Elektra, Interscope, Motown, Rhino, Big Beat, Capitol, LaFace, Priority, Virgin, Sire, and Zomba.

Maybe if Time Warner hadn't spun off Warner Music a few years ago, Ellen would have something to dance to.

UPDATE: A Warner Bros. spokesperson released this statement: "We have been working with the major record labels for many months to resolve a music usage issue, after years of a good working relationship between the parties.  It is unfortunate that the record labels have resorted to filing a suit over a straightforward business dispute which the show has always been prepared, and remains willing, to resolve on amicable and reasonable terms. This matter does not involve our host, Ellen DeGeneres, who, as everyone knows, is a tremendous music enthusiast and advocate.  We hope to have a resolution quickly and look forward to continuing to work with all the labels in a mutually beneficial manner."

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The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to [email protected]

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