George Lopez has officially become the latest comedian to sue Pandora for copyright infringement amid a broader rights-related battle.
The 61-year-old actor and stand-up star just recently submitted the straightforward action to a federal court in his native California. For background, two organizations, Spoken Giants and Word Collections, made headlines late last year after publicly expressing their goals of securing additional royalty payments for the creators of spoken-word entertainment (and comedians in particular).
Subsequently, with discussions concerning compensation for stand-up comedy’s underlying compositions (not recordings themselves) having rather predictably failed to bring about new agreements, streaming services promptly pulled releases from many high-profile comedians.
Meanwhile, Pandora has since faced an array of infringement suits, as initially mentioned, including from the likes of Bill Engvall, Nick Di Paolo, Andrew Dice Clay, and Lewis Black, to name some. The SiriusXM subsidiary fired back with an antitrust-focused countersuit, and evidence later suggested that SiriusXM was attempting to compel different comedy professionals yet to waive their composition rights.
Now, as disclosed at the outset, three-time Grammy nominee George Lopez is suing Pandora for allegedly exploiting “his works solely to make themselves money while knowing it had no license and had not paid, and would not be paying, royalties.”
“One would think that entertainment giants like Pandora would honor the legacy of such an amazing talent, but instead it chose to illegally profit from the creative mind and literary/comedic works of Mr. Lopez,” the complaint reads after highlighting Pandora’s royalty-related declarations in SEC filings as well as touting Lopez’s career (“Mr. Lopez is undeniably a legend in comedy”).
The action centers specifically on 37 of the Blue Beetle actor’s works, which released as part of the comedy albums Right Now Right Now and Team Leader. Besides allegedly infringing upon the media via interactive streaming on Pandora Premium, the service is said to have made the tracks “available for dissemination to the public via their digital broadcast radio service” without authorization.
“Pandora found a cash cow in a new revenue stream,” the suit drives home of a purported advertising boost that arrived after the addition of comedy to the platform, “and in a brazen business decision determined that the risk was worth the gain—that is until now.”
George Lopez is seeking “actual damages” and any profits stemming from the “willful” infringement or, alternatively, $5.5 million (the maximum $150,000 in statutory damages for each of the 37 works in question).