BMI Sues T-Mobile For Copyright Infringement Over Ringback Tones

By • January 14, 2010

Performing rights society BMI has accused wireless carrier T-Mobile of copyright infringement and encouraging its subscribers to commit copyright infringement in a federal lawsuit regarding ringback tones, the music that is heard by callers while a call to a T-mobile subscriber is being connected.

For the complete lawsuit document, click here.

The suit accuses T-mobile of “ongoing, voluminous and willful copyright infringement” and expects to prove that T-Mobile has performed “hundreds or thousands of works in the BMI repertoire” without authorization from the copyright owners, causing the copyright owners “great and incalculable damage.”

Ringback tones are an optional service selected by the mobile phone subscriber, and can range from popular music to classical music and film scores. T-Mobile became the first major carrier to offer ringback tones in 2004, and charges subscribers $1.49 per month for the service, plus an initial charge of $1.99 per musical work to “purchase” the music.

In a statement to Film Music Magazine this week, a BMI representative said, “BMI filed a copyright infringement suit against T-Mobile for its unlicensed use of the BMI repertoire on its ringback tone service.  BMI has licensed ringback tones on all of the major wireless carriers with the exception of T-Mobile and created a marketplace value for performing rights for these services.  Despite extensive BMI efforts spanning several years, T-Mobile has not signed a license agreement.  Consequently, to protect the interests of our songwriters, composers and music publishers, BMI has brought suit in the U.S. federal court in the Central District of California located in Los Angeles.   We are suing on over 50 titles from the BMI repertoire.”

The lawsuit specifies a wide variety of popular music, including hits such as “Bennie and the Jets,” “Candle in the Wind,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Brown Sugar,” “Californication,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”, “Joy To The World,” “Margaritaville,” “Mustang Sally,” “Proud May,” “Rocket Man,” “O Come, All Ye Faithful” and others.



Leave a Comment