Musician Aimee Mann Files Huge Copyright Infringement Suit over Digital Music

On July 22, 2013, singer Aimee Mann filed a lawsuit in the Central District of California against MediaNet, a company that provides digital music to different online services, including Yahoo Music and Playlist.com. Mann alleges that MediaNet does not have the right to distribute many of its songs, including 120 of Mann’s own, including some big hits like “Voices Carry” and “Save Me”.  Mann seeks to recover up to $18 million in damages.
The laws behind digital music distribution are complicated, making it a challenge for those attempting to comply with them. For starters, there are two copyrights in a digital song: one in the original musical composition and another once the song is recorded. This means that, in general, in order to distribute one digital song, two separate licensing fees must be paid. As a result, companies like Pandora and Spotify have, on their own, negotiated agreements with appropriate parties to obtain the necessary and proper licenses. However, according to the lawsuit, MediaNet has neglected to do the same, leaving a large portion of its catalog unlicensed.
With that said, Mann had at one point, entered into a licensing agreement with MediaNet to distribute her music. But in 2005, Mann says she terminated that agreement. After that, Mann claims that MediaNet not only continued distributing her music but stopped paying her royalties, with the exception of $20 she received (and gave back) earlier this year.
In response to this lawsuit, MediaNet has stated that it has been licensed since 2003 to distribute Mann’s work and has fulfilled its obligations to pay royalties. Further, MediaNet insists that it has always supported artists’ rights.
Mann claims direct, contributory and vicarious copyright infringement, among other claims. In addition, she seeks statutory damages which could amount to a maximum of $18 million and her attorneys’ fees.