Record Companies Sue Ellen DeGeneres Show Over Music Copyrights

Ellen DeGeneres is back in the news today...

(Wow! Two days in a row. She is reaching Oprah status)

Today's Ellen news is not quite as positive as yesterday's announcement that she would be the next American Idol judge, although the news is music related.

You see, the production company that produces Ellen DeGeneres' show, (appropriately titled Ellen), is being sued by a gang of record companies. "For what?", you might ask yourself. Glad you asked.

Have you ever watched Ellen DeGeneres' TV show? It seems that a signature part of the show is her dancing around among the audience to various tunes. She does this every day. She has done it thousands of times. She uses oldies, and she uses current popular music.

Guess what?

She doesn't have a license to use that music.

According to the suit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Nashville, when representatives of the recording companies asked defendants why they hadn't obtained licenses to use the songs, defendants said they didn't "roll that way."

"As sophisticated consumers of music, 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 suit states.

Scott Rowe, spokesman for the show's Telepictures Productions, wrote in an e-mailed statement that the company has been working with the record labels for months to resolve the issue and remains willing to resolve it on "amicable and reasonable terms."

Rowe said the issue does not involve DeGeneres, who on Wednesday was named as the fourth judge on TV's "American Idol," and whom Rowe calls "a tremendous music enthusiast and advocate."

The suit claims the daytime talk show has used copyrighted music without permission since its inception, including "recordings by virtually every major current artist of popular music." It claims the show routinely used some of the most popular songs of the day, which the record labels don't license for daytime television at any price.

Other songs cited in the lawsuit include Michael Jackson's "Thriller"; The Beach Boys'"Good Vibrations" and Will Smith's "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It."

The suit calls the segment and the music played by the show's own disc jockey "signature elements of the show."


The poor starving record companies that filed this little number in court include Arista Music, Atlantic Recording Corp., Capitol Records, Motown Record Company, Sony Music Entertainment, Virgin Records America and Warner Bros. Records.

No word yet on a possible counter suit by Ellen producers for lack of compensation from the record companies for possible growth in sales of stale old songs that Ellen! reminded consumers of.

When reached at their expansive mansions, the record company execs and stars who recorded these songs would not comment, or they were too busy taping another MTV Cribs episode.


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