NASHVILLE Going after the karaoke industry on behalf of all songwriters, SheDaisy's Kristyn Osborn filed a lawsuit against a karaoke giant on June 28.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Nashville against MMO Music Group's Pocket Songs division, alleges copyright infringements and other violations by the Elmsford, New York, manufacturer and distributor of karaoke products.
Osborn, the group's songwriting member, said she's filing as a songwriter rather than as a SheDaisy member to call attention to what she claims is rampant abuse of copyrighted material by many karaoke companies. "I started seeing many SheDaisy products on the Internet," she said, "and then I discovered huge numbers of unlicensed songs at karaoke Web sites."
Any money she's awarded as a result of the suit will go to charity, Osborn said. "I'm doing this because of illegal practices. We've made repeated attempts to allow them to correct their practices." She said she chose to file a one-songwriter, one-song suit to educate the public to the plight of songwriters whose copyrights are ignored.
Osborn chose "I Will … But," a top-five hit for her group. The lawsuit states that "I Will… But" was being sold without a license by Pocket Songs in a karaoke package. Osborn said the company had failed to respond to repeated messages from her attorney as well as a cease-and-desist order.
Included in the five-count lawsuit charges are copyright infringement by copying and displaying lyrics without permission, copyright infringement by reproduction of words and music and misappropriation of name and likeness. The suit seeks an injunction against Pocket Songs and seeks unspecified amounts of punitive and statutory damages.
Asked about the lawsuit, a spokesperson for Pocket Songs said, "We do not have any comment on that."
Bart Herbison, executive director of the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), said this is the first lawsuit by an individual songwriter against the karaoke industry. The NSAI, he said, is undertaking an information campaign about unscrupulous karaoke companies. "This is not Napster," he said. "We have nothing against karaoke. We're not prohibiting anyone from getting music or adding any cost to the music. But this is a $25 billion industry and we want it to be legitimate. Some companies pay; many, unfortunately, do not. Many simply steal an artist's work and sell it."
He said the NSAI is lobbying members of Congress about the karaoke issue and plans to host a town-hall meeting in Nashville on the issue.