The estates of Robin Williams and George Carlin sued Sirius XM’s Pandora Monday for streaming the late comedians’ recordings without the proper licensing or compensation.
The lawsuits were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California by King & Ballow on behalf of five comedians or their estates, including Williams, Carlin, Andrew Dice Clay, Bill Engvall, and Ron White against the streaming service platform.
The lawsuits allege that the comedians’ material has been “exploited, performed, broadcast, and streamed'' across Pandora's platforms without a license for years, without payment of even “a fraction of a penny.”
The complaints claim Pandora’s licenses for the comedians’ work do not include spoken-word comedy, raising “significant liability for copyright infringement.”
According to court filings obtained by the Washington Examiner, 27 of Williams's comedic routines were improperly offered through Pandora. The routines come from Williams's debut album Reality...What a Concept and his renowned special A Night at the Met.
Pandora allegedly infringed Carlin's work coming from several albums, including An Evening with Wally Londo, Class Clown, Classic Gold, George Carlin on Comedy, On the Road, Toledo Window Box and You are All Diseased.
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"While it is commonplace in the music industry for companies like Pandora to enter into public performance licensing agreements with performance rights organizations like BMI and ASCAP for musical compositions, these entities do not license literary works," court filings stated. "Therefore, it was the responsibility of Pandora to seek out the copyright owners and obtain valid public performance licenses."
The lawsuit against Pandora asks for damages ranging from $4 million for Williams’s estate and nearly $13 million for White. Carlin's estate is asking for $8.4 million.
The complaint alleges the copyright infringement helped position Pandora for its $3.5 billion sale to Sirius XM.
Pandora agreed to pay $90 million in 2015 to settle a lawsuit claiming it did not pay royalties for songs recorded prior to 1972, according to Rolling Stone.
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Carlin died in 2008. Williams died in 2014. Clay was a popular comedian in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Engvall and White are known for their work on the Blue Collar Comedy Tour.
Pandora has not responded to the Washington Examiner's request for comment.