EMI Music Publishing has filed a copyright-infringement suit against AOL Time Warner, claiming the media giant is not paying for the use of thousands of copyrights, including the songs "We're Off To S

EMI Music Publishing has filed a copyright-infringement suit against AOL Time Warner, claiming the media giant is not paying for the use of thousands of copyrights, including the songs "We're Off To See the Wizard," "Theme from Rocky," "New York, New York," and "Singin' in the Rain," Billboard Bulletin reports.

The complaint, filed yesterday (Aug. 7) in Southern District Court of New York, alleges that AOL TW is improperly exploiting an old agreement between CBS (former owner of the EMI catalog) and MGM/UA Entertainment Co., which originally controlled the songs. That deal, forged in 1982, gave MGM/UA a non-transferable license for "limited royalty-free uses" of certain songs.

Part of the MGM film library was subsequently acquired by Turner Broadcasting, now a unit of AOL TW. EMI contends that the royalty-free uses do not extend to either Turner or AOL TW and that the rights are voided "by virtue of a series of mergers and corporate acquisitions subsequent to the agreement."

"What was a very personal right that was granted just to [MGM/UA] now somehow belongs to AOL, in their view," EMI Music Publishing chairman Martin Bandier tells Bulletin. EMI -- which says AOL TW is using its copyrights as background music in advertising, TV shows and films -- is seeking monetary damages and an injunction. AOL declined comment.

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