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Thursday, 8 August, 2002, 10:38 GMT 11:38 UK
EMI fights AOL over 'illegal' songs
Wizard of Oz footage
One of the contested songs is from Wizard of Oz
The world's largest media company, AOL Time Warner, has been sued by recording company EMI Group for allegedly playing songs on TV and online without paying for them.

EMI's publishing unit said AOL Time Warner was illegally using songs from The Wizard of Oz, Singin' in the Rain and other classic Metro Goldwyn Mayer movies for promotional purposes.

It said they were being played on both the Turner Broadcasting network and the America Online Internet service.

The lawsuit was filed on Wednesday in New York's Southern District Court and seeks unspecified monetary damages and an injunction.

Janet Jackson
Janet Jackson is one of EMI's recording artists
"We believe that AOL Time Warner, and a whole bunch of their companies, have been rampantly using our copyrighted material without licensing it or paying for it," said Martin Bandier, the head of EMI Music Publishing.

AOL Time Warner's spokeswoman, Tricia Primrose, said the company had not yet seen EMI's statement of claim and had no comment.

The case relates to an old contract between EMI Music Publishing and MGM/United Artists, which gave MGM/UA a licence for limited use of certain songs.

But since the initial agreement, MGM/UA has changed ownership several times.

'Personal use'

It was bought by Turner Broadcasting Systems in 1986 when the production arm was sold, but the library of more than 3,000 movies was kept on.

Although Turner is now part of AOL Time Warner, EMI said the music rights did not apply to AOL Time Warner's vast web of operations.

"We gave them very personal use. It was non-assignable," said Mr Bandier.

EMI Music Publishing has rights to more than one million musical compositions, and represents stars including David Bowie, Lenny Kravitz, Janet Jackson and Carole King.

The dispute pits the owners of two of the major recording companies against each other, but they are also working together to fight online piracy, along with much of the recording industry.

See also:

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11 Jul 02 | Business
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