Black Entertainment Television and Viacom settle copyright class action

Posted on: May 9th, 2011 by Steve Larson
Share

A settlement has been reached in a class action lawsuit against Black Entertainment Television LLC (“BET”) and Viacom Inc. (“Viacom”) in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.  The case is called The Music Force and Henry Marx v. Black Entertainment Television LLC and Viacom Inc., Case No. 09-CV-00376.  The complaint alleges that BET and Viacom violated United States copyright law and state common law and/or unfair competition law by broadcasting certain musical works without authorization.

Class members include the following persons:

1. Musical Composition Class
The Musical Composition Class includes all Persons who are current Legal Owners of a musical composition or portion thereof that: (i) without license or authorization, was copied, reproduced, synchronized, displayed, performed, broadcast, telecast, cablecast, syndicated, exhibited, transmitted, disseminated, distributed or otherwise used in connection with or as part of any television series, episode, program, music video, performance, advertisement, promotion, commercial, or other exploitation in any manner in any medium anywhere between January 14, 2003 and February 3, 2011, whether now known or hereafter devised by or under the authority of BET LLC; and (ii) is not exclusively administered by an Excluded Person.

2. Sound Recording Class
The Sound Recording Class includes all Persons who are current Legal Owners of a sound recording or portion thereof that: (i) without license or authorization, was copied, reproduced, synchronized, displayed, performed, broadcast, telecast, cablecast, syndicated, exhibited, transmitted, disseminated, distributed or otherwise used in connection with or as part of any television series, episode, program, music video, performance, advertisement, promotion, commercial, or other exploitation in any manner in any medium anywhere between January 14, 2003 and February 3, 2011, whether now known or hereafter devised by or under the authority of BET LLC; and (ii) is not exclusively licensed to an Excluded Person.

Excluded from the Musical Composition and Sound Recording Classes are solely (i) any Persons to the extent their claims as alleged in the Action have already been released and discharged; (ii) any Persons to the extent they submit a timely and valid request to be excluded from the Classes (“Request for Exclusion”); (iii) Defendants, any affiliated or related company or entity, and any entity in which a Defendant or any affiliated or related entity has a controlling interest; and (iv) each of the major record company groups (Sony BMG Music Entertainment; Universal Music Group; EMI Music; Warner Music Group) and major music publisher groups (Sony/ATV Music Publishing; BMG Music Publishing; Universal Music Publishing; EMI Music Publishing; Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.) and, on a worldwide basis, all of the corporations, companies, organizations, entities, partnerships and joint ventures included within or comprising such groups (collectively, “Excluded Persons”).

To resolve the claims against them, BET and Viacom have agreed to pay $2,750,000 for the benefit of the Classes pursuant to terms of the Stipulation and Agreement of Settlement.  In order to share in the settlement proceeds, class members must timely file a Proof of Claim.

The Court will hold a Fairness Hearing on July 21, 2011, 10:00 a.m., at the Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Courthouse, Southern District of New York, to consider whether the settlement should be finally approved.

For more information on Black Entertainment Television BET & Viacom copyright class action lawsuit settlement, including information on how to participate in, object to or opt out of the settlement and the deadlines by which to do so, visit the BET & Viacom copyright lawsuit settlement website:  www.MFClassSettlement.com