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BMG sues Hilton over promotional videos on YouTube and Facebook

By | Published on Friday 28 June 2019


BMG’s Production Music unit has sued the Hilton hotels business in the US for allegedly using, without permission, its recordings in videos posted to YouTube and Facebook.

The music firm claims that Hilton used four recordings from its library – two directly registered with the US Copyright Office, two unregistered in America – in an assortment of videos published on its promotional YouTube channel and Facebook page.

Because this is a library music case, BMG controls both the recording and song rights in the four tracks Hilton allegedly used, which go by the names ‘Start Moving’, ‘I’m On It (Instrumental)’, ‘Collar Popper Holiday Mix’ and ‘Cookie Duster’.

The lawsuit adds that BMG – via its agent TuneSat – alerted Hilton that it was using its music without licence on multiple occasions. But the alleged infringement continued.

“Despite being notified that they were using BMG’s copyrighted music and/or unregistered music without authorisation or licence”, the legal filing reads, “and despite months of exchanges of correspondence with TuneSat, the defendants ultimately began wilfully and intentionally ignoring TuneSat’s correspondence and continued to use the copyrighted music and unregistered music without authorisation or licence from BMG”.

That Hilton has been “wilfully” infringing BMG’s rights is important because it can have an impact on any damages that may be due. US copyright law provides statutory damages of up to $150,000 where any one infringement is wilful, oblivious of any actual losses incurred by the copyright owner as a result of the infringing activity.

Technically statutory damages are only available when works are registered with the US Copyright Office, so would only apply to two of the tracks in this case. Though BMG’s lawsuit points out that each track contains both a recording copyright and a song copyright – both of which have been infringed – so the total statutory damages that could be awarded in this case are still $600,000.

In addition to damages and legal costs, BMG is also seeking an injunction ordering Hilton and all its subsidiaries and agencies to stop using its lovely tunes without a licence.