SEYMOUR (WATE) - A Seymour karaoke company is suing 20 area businesses and DJs, claiming they stole their karaoke songs. Big Mama Digital Entertainment claims the music piracy resulted in lost revenue and more than 60 lost jobs.
"We obtain the rights to the songs from the publishers. That allows us to re-record our own versions of them. We bring our own musicians into our own studios and we make our versions of the songs. We then synchronize lyrics to them," said David Grimes, chief of communications for Big Mama.
You can buy the CDs at places like Walmart. The problem? Many people aren't paying for them.
"Over the past six years, we've lost literally millions of dollars that's directly attributable to piracy," Grimes said. "At our peak, our workforce was over 100 people. Now we're down to 26. Those are people with families trying to put food on the table."
Big Mama is suing a number of East Tennessee bars and restaurants and the DJs that offer karaoke there, stating they have "...obtained, copied, shared, distributed and/or sold unauthorized digitized copies of the plaintiff's copyrighted karaoke recordings via pre-loaded hard drives, USB drives, CD-R's, or the Internet..."
A list of specific songs, dates and locations is included.
"It's not just about us. Karaoke show hosts who've paid fairly for their music, they're being undercut out there in their own market by people who haven't paid anything for their music so they can offer their shows more cheaply," Grimes said.
The lawsuit is seeking up to $150,000 per song for copyright infringement and up to $2 million per trademark infringement.
"We've seen figures that suggest as many as 19 out of every 20 people who are doing karaoke professionally may be doing it illegally," Grimes said.
We tried to contact the numerous defendants in this lawsuit. Many had no comment or said they knew nothing about it.