In-flight music offerings could soon be affected by litigation between the record and airline industries over copyrights.
Universal Music Group (UMG) looks as if it’s prepping for warfare against American Airlines over rights to in-flight music. A “standstill agreement” with the music titan is set to expire on November 10, at which time a copyright lawsuit could be launched as the latest front in what is looking more and more like a coordinated effort by music industry heavyweights to garner higher revenues from the biggest airlines in the U.S.
In late 2013, Sony filed a lawsuit against United Airlines over copyrights on international flights. An out-of-court settlement was reached, although it has yet to be finalized.
A lawsuit was filed by UMG earlier this year in California against Global Eagle Entertainment and Inflight Productions, suppliers of in-flight music, pertaining to recordings and videos performed by Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Kanye West and a number of additional artists. Although the complaint did not specifically mention any airlines, it did allege that the noted defendants were “working in concert with various airlines.”
In court documents filed on Monday, American claimed that “UMG has threatened to add American to the California action,” and further reported receiving a subpoena from UMG with “17 sweeping requests for documents going back 10 years.”
American representatives told the judge handling the case:
Given the over breadth of its Requests, and the demand for irrelevant, confidential commercial and/or privileged information and dealings with others, UMG’s strategy is clearly to obtain discovery of American prior to filing a lawsuit against American. This is misuse of the third-party subpoena power and, for this additional reason, this Court should quash the Subpoena