Google Flexes Its Muscles for the Court in an Attempt to Dodge Claims that It Sold Pirated Master Recordings

“Utrecht, The Netherlands – June 12, 2011: A magnifying glass on the Google homepage. Google is the most popular web search engine.”

On May 13, 2021, Google reached a tentative settlement to resolve three copyright lawsuits in which the owners of a variety of master recordings (“the owners”) alleged that Google sold pirated versions of over 270 of their master recordings. Two of the three suits involved the rights to Harry Arlen’s music. Arlen’s works have been performed by some of history’s most talented musicians, including Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis, and Ray Charles, to name a few. Ray Henderson Music Company filed the third suit, which involved songs such as “Bye Bye Black Bird,” “The Best Things in Life Are Free,” and more. The owners claimed that Google had been selling over 270 of the owners’ master recordings without any right to do so.

Google previously filed a motion to dismiss the suit because it may not have actually sold all 270 master recordings, despite making them available to users. However, a District Court in California denied Google’s motion to dismiss. In doing so, Judge Chhabria of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California held that the court would not make a judgment on the validity of the case based on whether Google had actually sold all of the master recordings until a later stage in the proceedings.

Google pointed to a case in which a Seattle federal court granted a motion to dismiss for Amazon in a nearly identical case. In response, Judge Chhabria stated that he disagreed with the Seattle court’s decision if the allegations in the Seattle case were similar to those in the present case.

The owners are represented by Matthew F. Schwartz and Brian S. Levenson of Schwartz Ponterio & Levenson PLLC, Oren S. Giskan of Giskan Solotaroff & Anderson LLP, and Allen Hyman of the Law Offices of Allen Hyman.

Google is represented by A. John P. Mancini, Eric B. Evans, Graham Buccigross, and Sara A. Slavin of Mayer Brown LLP.

The cases are SA Music LLC et al. v. Google LLC et al., case number 3:20-cv-00488; Ray Henderson Music Co. Inc. v. Google LLC et al., case number 3:20-cv-00538; and Four Jays Music Co. et al. v. Google LLC et al., case number 3:20-cv-00540, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

* Lowe & Associates (“The Firm”) is an entertainment and business law firm located in Beverly Hills, California. The Firm has extensive experience handling cases involving copyright and music law, providing top-quality legal services to its clients since 1991. The Firm is recognized for its many achievements, including successfully litigating many high-profile cases.

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