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Copyright lawsuits pile up for Pandora with comedian George Lopez’s being the latest

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Copyright lawsuits pile up for Pandora with comedian George Lopez’s being the latest

The comedian George Lopez has launched a complaint against Pandora, alleging that the streaming service has violated his copyright. His claim has increased pressure on Pandora, which is already dealing with several copyright infringement lawsuits from other comedians.

The comedian claims that Pandora has streamed 37 selections from two of his albums - 2001's Right Now Right Now and 2003's Team Leader, without paying him royalties or obtaining the proper licenses from him.

Pandora is a subsidiary company of SiriusXM and is the largest audio entertainment streaming service in the United States.

Lopez filed copyright infringement on two counts, one for “sound recording” and the other for “underlying spoken word composition,” and believes that anyone who wishes to obtain the right must get a “license from the respective copyright owner in both of these copyrights and pay agreed-to royalties.”

He alleged that Pandora “found a cash cow in a new revenue stream” and “decided it would infringe” the intellectual property to remain competitive and “deal with the consequences later.”

The lawsuit also highlighted that the streaming service has publicly acknowledged infringing on comedian copyrights in the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s filings and "admitted that it would very likely face copyright infringement liability as a result."

However, Pandora stopped admitting to this practice after it was acquired by SiriusXM.

The comedian is asking the court for the profits reaped from his work and US$5.5 million in legal damages over the alleged copyright breaches.

Lopez is yet another comedian whose copyrighted content was unlawfully distributed to Pandora listeners without obtaining the required licensing or sharing royalties.

Lopez’s lawyer Richard Busch of the Los Angeles law firm King & Ballow is already representing other comedians suing Pandora, including Lewis Black, Ron White, and the estates of late comedians George Carlin and Robin Williams who want to be compensated for their works.

According to The Wrap, all the lawsuits have been consolidated and will be heard in the California Central District Court very soon.

The likelihood of a resolution may be quite low, but the involvement of industry big names like Lopez will only increase the pressure.

PitchMark recently covered a story where a group of comedians, led by global rights administration company, Spoken Giants, wants to be paid royalties when their jokes are played on radio and streaming services such as Spotify and YouTube.

When a song gets played on such platforms, they have to pay the parties who own the recording of that song, as well as the parties who created that song.

For comedians, however, the situation is quite different. In the United States, they are currently paid "through their label or distributor and digital performance rights organization SoundExchange when their recordings are played on a digital service", the WSJ reported, and they do not receive payment for their creation of the material.

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Mark Laudi

Mark Laudi

Press contact Managing Partner (+65) 6223 2249

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