Amway blames songs' misuse on distributors

The Associated Press, March 25, 1998

Amway Corp.announced Tuesday it has agreed to pay $9 million to settle a lawsuit by the recording industry over the company's questioned use of songs by top artists in videotaped pitches of its products.

The deal between Ada-based Amway and the Recording Industry Association of America ends a two-year federal lawsuit that accused the company of copyright infringement.

The lawsuit had alleged that Amway and some of its top distributors used the songs -- some from the Beatles and Michael Jackson -- without permission and did not pay royalties to the artists.

Amway earlier had settled a related federal lawsuit by the National Music Publishers Association of America, which represents music publishing companies holding copyright rights to sheet music.

As for the RIAA's case, "this settlement confirms absolutely that the rights to use copyrighted sound recordings in any medium must be negotiated and licensed from the record companies," said Steve D'Onofrio, an RIAA vice president.

Under the settlement, Amway, its distributors and the promotional videotapes' producers deny wrongdoing and agree to refrain from future infringement in its sales pitches. In an unsigned statement, Amway blamed the legal action on its distributors' ignorance about copyright matters.

"The Amway distributors involved did not fully understand the somewhat complex licensing practices in the music industry," Amway said. "Many also relied upon the representations of a now-defunct video producer who assured many of them that the appropriate music copyright licenses were in place."


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