Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Pandora are being sued for selling and streaming unauthorized recordings of Harold Arlen, the composer of Over the Rainbow and other classic songs. The lawsuit accuses the companies of running “massive music piracy operation” involving more than 6,000 pirated recordings.
The lawyers say that the companies joined with "notorious music pirates" to sell and stream the pirated recordings.
Arlen also composed music for the 1954 version of A Star is Born and collaborated with hit songwriters such as Ira Gershwin and Johnny Mercer.
As an example, the lawyers point to an online retailer selling an Arlen song using the record label name Soundtrack Classics for $.99 alongside an authorized copy from RCA Victor record label for $1.29. The cover art of the Soundtracks Classics version had been altered to remove RCA Victor’s logo.
The lawyers for Arlen claim that the online music services “have had knowledge of their own infringing conduct and that of the many of the pirate label and distributor defendants for several years, and have continued to work with them.”
“It is hard to imagine that a person walking into Tower Records, off the street, with arms full of CD’s and vinyl records and claiming to be the record label for Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, and Ella Fitzgerald, could succeed in having that store sell their copies directly next to the same albums released by legendary record labels, Capitol, RCA, and Columbia, and at a lower price,” stated Arlen’s attorneys. “Yet, this exact practice occurs every day in the digital music business where there is unlimited digital shelf space … and a complete willingness by the digital music stores and services to seek popular and iconic recordings from any source, legitimate or not, provided they participate in sharing the proceeds."