Saying she’s going after the karaoke industry on behalf of all songwriters, Kristyn Osborn filed a lawsuit against a karaoke giant on Thursday (June 28).
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Nashville against MMO Music Group’s Pocket Songs division, alleges copyright infringements and other violations by the Elmsford, N.Y., company.
Osborn, the songwriting member of the group SHeDAISY , said she’s filing as a songwriter -– not as a member of the group SHeDAISY –- to call attention to what she said is rampant copyright infringement by many karaoke companies. “I started seeing many SHeDAISY products on the Internet,” she said, “and then I discovered karaoke listings and huge numbers of unlicensed songs.”
Saying that any monies she receives as a result of the suit will go to charity, Osborn said, “I’m doing this because of illegal practices. We’ve made repeated attempts to allow them to correct their practices.” She said she chose to file a one-songwriter, one-song suit to educate the public about the plight of songwriters whose copyrights are ignored. In this case, she chose her song “I Will…But,” a Top 5 hit for her group. The lawsuit states that “I Will…But” has been used by Pocket Songs in a karaoke package without a license. Osborn said the company had failed to respond to repeated messages from her attorney as well as a cease-and-desist order.
The five-count lawsuit specifically cites copyright infringement by copying and displaying lyrics, copyright infringement by reproduction of words and music, violation of the Lanham Act by falsely and deceptively packaging a sound recording, misappropriation of name and likeness (for use of “SHeDAISY”) and violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. The suit seeks an injunction against Pocket Songs and seeks unspecified amounts of punitive and statutory damages
Bart Herbison, the executive director of the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), said that this is the first lawsuit by an individual songwriter against the karaoke industry. The NSAI, he said, is undertaking an information campaign about unscrupulous karaoke companies. “This is not Napster,” he said. “We have nothing against karaoke. We’re not prohibiting anyone from getting music or adding any cost to the music. But, this is a $25 billion industry and we want it to be legitimate. Some companies pay; many, unfortunately, do not. Many simply steal an artist’s work and sell it.”
He said the NSAI, which is now lobbying members of Congress about the karaoke issue, plans a town hall meeting in Nashville soon about karaoke.
Asked about the lawsuit, a spokeswoman for Pocket Songs said, “We do not have any comment on that.”