Apple, Amazon and Google sued for piracy by Wizard of Oz composer's estate

Anthony Cuthbertson

Four of the world's biggest tech giants have been accused of conducting music piracy on a massive scale in a lawsuit filed by the estate of a renowned Broadway composer.

Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft are alleged to have profited from unauthorised versions of songs composed by Harold Arlen, whose music includes Over the Rainbow from The Wizard of Oz.

The lawsuit accuses the companies of "massive music piracy operations in [their] digital music stores and streaming services."

It states: "It is hard to imagine that a person walking into Tower Records, off the street, with arms full of CD's and vinyl records and claiming to be the record label for Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, and Ella Fitzgerald, could succeed in having that store sell their copies directly nest to the same albums released by legendary record labels, Capitol, RCA, and Columbia, and at a lower price.

"Yet, this exact practice occurs every day in the digital music business where there is unlimited digital shelf space."

The lawsuit alleges more than 6,000 pirated recordings have appeared in some form on the companies' various platforms, along with those of internet radio company, Pandora.

It cites previous cases, in which damages of between $9,250 and $22,300 were awarded for each infringed recording.

This would put the potential damages in this case somewhere in the region of $55m (£43m) to $134m (£105m).

"Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Pandora and their distributors have joined with notorious music pirates to sell and stream thousands of pirated recordings embodying copyrighted musical works owned by plaintiffs SA Music and the Harold Arlen Trust," states the lawsuit, which was first reported by Forbes. "Defendants have failed to obtain any license that would authorise them to reproduce, distribute, sell or stream the pirated recordings... and, as a result, defendants have infringed plaintiff's exclusive rights."

If successful, the lawsuit would also require the companies to remove all of the alleged copyrighted material from its online stores and streaming services.

The companies were not immediately available for comment but do not typically comment on ongoing legal proceedings.