Singers Sue Label For Failing To Sue Others For Infringement

from the sue-or-be-sued dept

Techdirt has covered many copyright lawsuits in the past, but this one is a bit different. Singers Daryl Hall and John Oates have filed a suit against their publisher, Warner/Chappell Music, who they claim have failed to enforce their rights and sue an unnamed singer-songwriter for infringement. They claim this is in breach of their contract, and are seeking the termination of said contract as well as unspecified damages.

Two things strike me about this lawsuit (although I'm not a lawyer and haven't seen the contract, so take it for what it's worth). First, though the alleged infringer isn't named, there seem to be two possibilities given they date it as 2006 - Nelly Furtado's Maneater was apparently influenced by it, and it was sampled by the Ying Yang Twins in their song Dangerous. I would have hoped both of these would be covered by fair use -- Oates in fact said of the former, "it's flattering and it makes you feel good because you think you've influenced a new generation of musicians." The second is that litigation should be a tool of last resort, and a lawsuit over someone not suing isn't exactly in line with that sentiment.

In fairness to Hall and Oates, their reasoning for the filing is that Warner/Chappell have failed to act over a "conflict of interest", which implies the publishers were benefiting from the alleged infringement and failing to pass that benefit on. Still, the idea that a label could be liable for failing to sue for copyright infringement is hardly likely to improve the litigation-happy nature of the industry at present.

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