Does a California Copyright Case Spell Doom for Karaoke Lovers?

If you feel strongly about karaoke (most either love it or hate it), you should keep a close eye on a recently filed California copyright infringement case. The dispute involves KTS Karaoke, a leading maker and distributer of karaoke discs, and Sony/ATV Music Publishing, a joint venture between Sony and the estate of Michael Jackson.

As reported by the Hollywood Reporter, KTS is seeking a declaration that it doesn’t owe $1.28 billion for 6,715 acts of alleged infringement, as Sony has alleged. KTS also claims that Sony is committing copyright misuse by attempting to collect multiple damage awards on a single work by pursuing producers, bars and restaurants, and distributors.

In response, Sony has filed a lawsuit against KTS in Tennessee, alleging willful copyright infringement. Sony is seeking damages, an injunction, and a recall of all infringing song discs.

As evidenced by these cases, karaoke invokes a whole host of copyright and licensing issues, including the right to use the original music and song composition, the right to perform the song in public, and the right to reprint the song lyrics. While all of these may not be addressed in the pending litigation, it should add clarity to the legal obligations of each link on the karaoke distribution chain.

For those who do enjoy karaoke, it may well decide whether it is still available at your local bar.


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