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Sony Music sues makers of Whitney Houston biopic over use of her songs

Post Time:2024-02-19 Source:Reuters Author: Blake Brittain Views:

Feb 15 (Reuters) - Sony Music Entertainment (6758.T), has sued four companies involved in making the 2022 biopic "Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody," claiming they never paid to use the superstar's music in the film.

Sony Music said in the California federal court lawsuit, made public on Thursday that the companies were infringing its copyrights after they failed to pay for their licenses to 24 Houston classics including "I Wanna Dance With Somebody," "How Will I Know," and "I Will Always Love You."

Sony Music requested at least $3.6 million in damages and a court order to stop the alleged infringement.

One of the defendants, film financer and production company Black Label Media, said it was "one of many investors in this film, should not have been named in the lawsuit, and looks forward to being dismissed from it promptly."

The other defendants could not be reached for comment. Representatives for Sony Music did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Houston, who died in 2012, signed to Arista Records in 1983. Arista is now owned by Sony Music.

Sony Music said in the lawsuit that it licensed Houston's music to producer Anthem Films to use in Anthem's biopic and soundtrack in 2022. The movie was released later that year and grossed nearly $60 million worldwide.

Sony said that Anthem's licensing fees were due in July 2023 under their agreement. The complaint said that Anthem never paid, and that Sony notified Anthem and Black Label later that year that their agreement was breached and that the use of Houston's music amounted to copyright infringement.

According to the lawsuit, Anthem told Sony Music it would pay after it received money it was owed by the state of Massachusetts. Sony Music said Anthem later declined to sign an agreement for the proposed repayment, citing its contracts with the other defendants.

The case is Sony Music Entertainment v. Anthem Films LLC, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, No. 2:24-cv-01250.