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Law360: Johnson & Johnson Files Copyright Infringement Suit Against Major League Soccer (Feb. 17, 2023)

Posted by Johnson & Johnson, LLP | Mar 03, 2023

Music Co. Sues MLS For Unlicensed Use Of 253 Recordings


February 17, 2023

Elaine Briseño

A music production company has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in California federal court accusing Major League Soccer and a host of its professional teams of using, without permission, hundreds of its cataloged mostly instrumental musical recordings on social media for marketing purposes.

Hollywood, California-based Associated Production Music LLC filed the complaint Thursday, claiming it learned through a third-party vendor that the defendants were "exploiting the recordings" on social media by synchronizing them with videos promoting the commercial activities of the league.

"APM thereafter learned that at no point in time did defendants ever obtain APM's license, authorization or consent to synchronize the recordings with the videos," the suit said.

Thursday's filing included a list of 253 musical works the league included in its marketing videos without obtaining a license from the company.

APM, according to its complaint, is the leading production company in North America with more than a million tracks in its copyrighted catalog. Its well-known tracks, according to the suit, include the theme songs for "Monday Night Football" and "The People's Court" and "Sweet Victory" from the "SpongeBob SquarePants" episode of "Band of Geeks."

"Without plaintiff's authorization, license or consent, defendants reproduced, distributed and/or publicly performed the recordings as part of the videos, thereby infringing plaintiff's exclusive rights of copyright to the recordings under the Copyright Act," the suit claimed.

APM is seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction that would prohibit MLS from further using the recordings, damages for the infringement up to $150,000 for each violation, and attorney fees and costs.

An attorney for APM said they have no comment at this time.

A representative for MLS did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

APM is represented by Douglas L. Johnson, Melissa Eubanks and Daniel B. Lifschitz of Johnson & Johnson LLP.

Attorney information for MLS was not immediately available.

The case is Associated Production Music LLC v. Major League Soccer LLC et al., case number 2:23-cv-01173, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Western Division.

--Editing by Janice Carter Brown.

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