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Harold Arlen estate dismisses its copyright lawsuit against Apple

By | Published on Wednesday 25 March 2020

Harold Arlen iTunes

The estate of Harold Arlen has dropped its lawsuit against Apple over allegations that the iTunes store – like many other digital platforms – makes available loads of unlicensed versions of recordings of the late composer’s songs.

Arlen wrote ‘Over The Rainbow’, ‘I’ve Got The World On A String’ and ‘Get Happy’, among many other famous works. His estate argues that an assortment of labels and distributors have uploaded bootleg versions of recordings of those songs to otherwise legitimate download stores and streaming services.

While the Arlen estate doesn’t control the copyright in those recordings, the compulsory licence that covers the mechanical copying of songs in the US – of which the estate is a beneficiary – does not apply if a recording is not properly licensed.

The Arlen estate sued various digital platforms in America as well as the labels and distributors accused of actually uploading the unlicensed tracks. Other litigation followed, with the estates of Harry Warren and Ray Henderson also signing up as plaintiffs.

When the original lawsuit was filed, lawyers working for the Arlen estate said that “this case is about massive music piracy operations in the digital music stores and streaming services of some of the largest tech companies in the world. 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 works owned by [the estate]”.

But that original lawsuit has now been voluntarily dismissed by the estate. According to Law360, most of the companies listed as defendants on that litigation had already been removed, leaving only Apple. The estate then filed papers with the court on Monday requesting that the case be dismissed with prejudice, meaning that the lawsuit can’t be re-filed with the court at any point in the future.

No explanation was given for why the lawsuit was being dismissed. Though it could simply be so that the estate can focus its attention on other related litigation in other courts.