Ford Motor Company faces copyright law claim

Glenn W. Peterson

Like most people across the country, California residents find television and radio advertisements annoying, especially when the music associated with them gets stuck in their heads. Of course, that is the point of commercials, and companies will spend substantial amounts of money promoting their products in this way. However, under copyright law, those companies need to enter into licensing agreements with the owners of the musical selections they want to use. Recently, one composer accused Ford Motor Company of not obtaining licensing to use the music in its advertisements.

According to the lawsuit recently filed, Ford failed to obtain the rights to use the music in no less than 74 promotional videos and advertisements. Freeplay Music LLC, says the company used 54 of its songs without permission. The company claims Ford willfully infringed on its copyrights by using the material.

Freeplay Music is asking the court for at least $150,000 per incident in order to teach the company a lesson. The approximate total of damages the company would receive if awarded this amount per infringement would be around $8.1 million. Freeplay Music found it challenging to locate all of the songs and incidents of infringement it claims Ford made, which it says was intentional on the part of the automaker.

California residents who rely on copyright law to protect their works may also need to remain diligent in discovering instances of infringement since not everyone will come to them for the rights to use their material. If one or more incidents are found, it would be prudent to obtain an understanding of legal rights and options available. Not everyone will need to file a lawsuit in order to assert his or her protections under the law, but it would still be a good idea to consult with an attorney in order to make sure the appropriate steps are taken in the pursuit of restitution for any use not permitted by the holder.