Sony Sues United Airlines Over Use of Inflight Music

Sony Music has filed suit against United Airlines, claiming that it is infringing its copyrights because it has not obtained permission to offer music from artists ranging from Carrie Underwood to Bruce Springsteen in its inflight entertainment offerings.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in New York earlier this week.

The lawsuit alleges that United has been offering the recordings, along with music videos, in its on-demand in-flight service as well as its pre-programmed service. It seeks an injunction as well as damages. Sony says it has the option of pursuing profits United made from the music, or statutory damages of $150,000 for each work.

A spokeswoman for United did not return a request for comment.

The suit claims that Sony was contacted by Rightscom, working on rights management on behalf of Inflight Prods., seeking the rights to the music for United and Continental. The rep, the suit states, admitted that Inflight reproduced the music to make it available for passengers. Sony said in the suit that it has been in communication with the defendants to work out authorization, but that they have continued to offer the “unlicensed access” to the music to passengers on flights.

Inflight Prods. and Rightscom also were named in the suit.

Andrew Bart of Jenner & Block is representing Sony Music in the litigation.

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