Visit any of the major digital music stores and you'll find unauthorized copies of songs for sale and streaming. The stores know this is happening, but don't seem to care. That's the claim being made in a lawsuit filed by the estate of well-known composer Harold Arlen.
As Forbes reports, the lawsuit was filed in the US district court of California with a very long list of defendants including Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Pandora, along with the music distributors they work with. It accuses the companies of selling over 6,000 unauthorized recordings of songs Harold Arlen composed and that this counts as "massive music piracy operations in the digital music stores and streaming services." The lawsuit goes on to claim that the defendants have "joined with notorious music pirates to sell and stream thousands of pirated recordings."
The piracy takes the form of recordings offered using alternative record labels at a cheaper price than the authorized copies. In some cases the cover art has been doctored to remove the legitimate record label logo.
The lawsuit seeks to stop any and all copyright infringement by the digital music stores as well as seeking damaged for the infringements that have already occurred under the federal copyright statute. The total amount being sought is in the region of $4.5 million.
On its own, losing this case would hardly be felt by the likes of cash-rich Apple, Google, and Microsoft. But in context, this is just one composer and over 6,000 songs. What happens if the Arlen estate wins and all the other composers out there start filing similar lawsuits? They'd likely win and all would want massive payouts. With that in mind, I predict a strong defense against the lawsuit while the digital music stores quickly review the legitimacy of all the songs they sell followed by the quiet removal of any that are of questionable origin.