CNN sued for using hundreds of songs in broadcasts without permission

December 4, 2022

CNN has been sued by a music production company for using over 100 of its songs without permission on broadcasts in different parts of the world. 

Freeplay has sued CNN for $17 million for "willfully" violating copyright laws in its use of the songs in outposts in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Chile over the past few years.

A total of 117 songs were used in 280 broadcasts, and in many cases the songs were used in their entirety or a major part of the song was used.

The suit read:

These are not minor uses. FPM’s production music library has been used to create and enhance the CNN brand in these segments, and to create the mood and feel that the International Parties aimed to convey. The Works often appear at the beginning of the segment and run throughout. … [T]he licensing and payment requirements are clearly described on the FPM website. FPM placed CNN on notice of this infringement, but its letter was ignored.

Ignorance claim won't work

CNN cannot claim ignorance of copyright laws--not that that would work as a legal argument anyway--since they covered numerous stories about it, like the time Neil Young sued former President Donald Trump for using his song without permission during a campaign.

The network also covered it when Twitter removed a Trump campaign video from the platform for using the song "Electric Avenue" without permission, so it's not like it shouldn't have known what it was doing.

More likely, the network just thought it could get away with using the music illegally and that no one would ever call it out.

Most of these music groups wouldn't want to be associated with someone like Trump (0r any conservative), but everyone loves CNN, right?

Guess not.

No stranger to lawsuits

Richard Busch is representing Freeplay. He famously helped Marvin Gaye estate successfully sue Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke for using his music in “Blurred Lines" without permission. 

Freeplay is not new to suing companies for misusing its music, either.

It previously sued online retail company Alibaba, the guitar maker Gibson, and the Ford Motor Company for similarly misusing its music, which seems like it would be free but isn't.


" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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