Wasn’t Ellen DeGeneres supposed to be popping Cristal this week, ushering in the conquering of yet another media platform? Yes! But hold off on the bubbly: First she’s gotta deal with a lawsuit alleging she’s a thief.
No, not a Lindsay Lohan kind of thief, but an intellectual property type. Ellen, who was just named the fourth judge on American Idol, is being sued for playing songs on her namesake show without paying for their licenses.
Universal Music Group, EMI, Sony Music, and Warner Music Group have all teamed up on the lawsuit aimed at Ellen’s show’s producers and distributors (but not, let’s be sure, Ellen herself), claiming that while they secured rights from music publishers, they actively opted not to get clearances from the labels — an exercise in the byzantine ownership structure of music.
From Britney to the Black Eyed Peas, Ellen’s show is synonymous with her in-house DJ spinning pop songs during the entrances of Ellen and her guests.
Of course, the lawsuit is just about money, and negotiations that went sour. Because really, when Ellen plays your artists’ tunes for the masses, she’s doing you the favor.