“Massive piracy” leads to IP lawsuit against tech giants

“Over the Rainbow” is one of the enduring songs from a movie. It is remarkable that the song is still well known and loved 80 years after the initial release of the classic “The Wizard of Oz.”

Though composer Harold Arlen’s song has seemingly been around forever, it is not in the public domain. In fact, Arlen’s estate recently filed a 148-page intellectual property lawsuit against Google, Apple, Amazon, Pandora, Microsoft and other companies for allegedly distributing “Over the Rainbow” without paying royalties.

The Arlen estate accuses the tech giants of participating in a “massive piracy operation for the purpose of generating profits from their sales and streams of pirated recordings.”

The lawsuit filed earlier this month in a California federal court states that technological advances have allowed music to be pirated more and more easily, enabling people to duplicate recordings – and thereby deny the Arlen estate its mechanical royalties.

The estate says Arlen’s songs have been streamed countless times, but that many streaming services are using pirated copies of his work and are doing so without use of the licenses needed to legally reproduce and distribute music.

Arlen died in 1986, and while his best-known song is “Over the Rainbow,” he also composed other songs for “The Wizard of Oz” and standards such as “Stormy Weather” (made famous by Lena Horn) and “It’s Only a Paper Moon,” popularized by Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald and others.

Other artists also recorded Arlen songs, including Billie Holiday, Ray Charles, John Coltrane and Miles Davis.

Those who want to protect their intellectual property can contact a San Diego law firm experienced in IP litigation.