Multiple Rock Documentaries Slapped with Copyright Infringement Lawsuits

Multiple Rock Documentaries Slapped with Copyright Infringement Lawsuits

Photo by Nick Youngson

A set of companies that control the rights to a slew of popular songs are suing those that they accuse of using some of this music in documentaries without permission.

The plaintiffs in the case include the following:

  • Universal Music Group (UMG)
  • Polygram
  • Abkco Music

They represent artists such as:

  • The Rolling Stones
  • U2
  • Elton John
  • Nirvana
  • Lynard Skynard
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Abba

They are suing Coda Publishing, Vision Films and director Robert Carruthers. The suit insists that the nearly dozen music documentaries that the three have produced are just a means of infringing on copyrighted material. The material in question includes some of the most recognizable songs in modern music, such as:

  • “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”
  • “Dancing Queen”
  • “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
  • “Rocket Man”
  • “Free Bird”
  • “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”

The defendants’ films include:

  • The Rolling Stones – Their Satanic Majesties
  • The Rolling Stones – Big Hits
  • ABBA – the Gold Singles
  • U2 – Phenomenon – Part 2
  • Nirvana – The Path From Incesticide to In Utero
  • Nirvana – the Ultimate Review
  • Elton John – in Performance
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers – Behind the Music
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers – Phenomenon
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd – Rock Case Studies

In apparent response to the lawsuit, The Hollywood Reporter says that Amazon has withdrawn the films from their site.

Though the publication also says that a number of the films are still available on Vimeo, either for rent or for sale.

Filed in the U.S. District Court’s Southern District of New York on December 30, the suit is asking the court to declare that the defendants willfully infringed on their copyrights. They also want the defendants to destroy all the films and pay them statutory damages of up to $150,000 per infraction. Alternatively, the plaintiffs would accept actual damages in addition to any profits that the defendants received from the films.

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