Ford Motor Co. Hit With $8M Copyright Lawsuit Over Unlicensed Synchs

Ford Motor company
James Leynse/Corbis via Getty Images

The Henry Ford II World Center, headquarters of the Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Mich.

Freeplay Music says the car company used 54 of its catalog works in at least 74 different ads without authorization.

Digital music library catalog Freeplay Music (FPM) has filed an $8 million lawsuit accusing Ford Motor Co. of using its catalog of songs in advertisements without obtaining the proper licenses. The federal lawsuit filed in Michigan on Monday calls Ford “a multibillion dollar company too cheap to secure licensing before commercially using registered works by another company.”

FPM, which has more than 50,000 works by 480 composers in its catalog, alleges Ford used 54 works in at least 74 different promotional videos and is seeking the maximum statutory damages of $150,000 per infringed work.

FPM was founded in 2001 by Scott Schreer, a composer and producer of theme songs for television, including those that for the NFL on Fox theme, among others. He has won seven Distinguished BMI songwriter awards over the last 10 years.

The company exclusively offers its music catalog to major broadcasters, advertisers and production studios for commercial use intended to be synchronized with audiovisual works. FPM’s website (freeplaymusic.com) states that each song must be licensed for commercial use offering songs for one time use at a rate of $250 and for annual fees of $500 per song.

Through the work of the firm TuneSat, which detects uses of works in its system both online and on television, FPM says it discovered that 74 songs from its catalog had been used by Ford without licenses. According to the complaint, when FPM became aware of the infringement in 2017, the company contacted Ford demanding requisite licenses for use. When Ford did not only fail to produce valid licenses, but also continued to use the works over the past three years, FPM filed suit.

FPM’s lawyer Richard Busch says, “Everything we have to say is set forth in very great detail in our Complaint. We are now very much looking forward to litigating this case.”

A Ford spokesperson declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.

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