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Ellen’s Tune Troubles


It's her first full day in the music industry and already Ellen DeGeneres is hitting a sour note. Immediately following the announcement that DeGeneres will replace Paula Abdul on the upcoming season of American Idol, four major record companies have sued producers of The Ellen DeGeneres Show for unauthorized use of music.

The chat fest averages 3 million daily viewers, and DeGeneres regularly starts the show or introduces guests with an improvised dance number set to pop music selected by a DJ. Reuters is reporting that the lawsuit, filed in federal court in Nashville, charges A Very Good Production, The Ellen DeGeneres Show's production company, with the use of over 1,000 songs without permission. According to the suit, when asked why licenses were not obtained for the use of the music in question, show representatives said they "did not roll that way."

"As sophisticated consumers of music, defendants knew fully well that, regardless of the way they rolled, under the Copyright Act ... they needed a license to use the sound recordings lawfully," stated the lawsuit, filed by Warner Music Group Corp., Sony Corp.'s Sony Music Entertainment, Vivendi SA's Universal Music Group, and EMI Group.

In a statement, Warner Bros., a division of Time Warner Inc., which produces and distributes the talk show, said it has been "working with the plaintiffs for many months" to come to a resolution on the squabble over the songs. "After years of a good working relationship between the parties," the statement said, "it is unfortunate that the record labels have resorted to filing a suit over a straightforward business dispute which the show has always been prepared, and remains willing, to resolve on amicable and reasonable terms."

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Matthew Breen