Music legend Ray Charles died in 2004 but his music lives on — and so do the lawsuits. On Tuesday, publishers of Ray Charles’ music, including beloved songs like “Georgia on My Mind,” won a $6.6 million suit against LiveUniverse for posting the lyrics of the song online.
According to EURWeb, “Founded by Brad Greenspan, a co-founder of Myspace, LiveUniverse has to cough up $6.6 million to Warner Chappell Music, Peermusic, and Bug Music for copyright infringement.”
How did it add up to a whopping $6.6 million? A California federal court awarded Ray Charles’ publishers $12,500 for each of the 528 songs’ lyrics LiveUniverse infringed upon.
“One of the principal purposes of our lawsuit was to obtain a large statutory damage award, which would serve as a warning to persuade illegal lyric site operators that it makes good business sense to become licensed and avoid having their site shut down and damages awarded against them,” said Ross Charap in a statement, representing the music publishers.
But what does this mean for the future of LiveUniverse? This suit could set a precedent for other artists to sue the company. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Ray Charles Foundation, Charles’ children, Warner/Chappell Music and the foundation are all involved in a tug of war over money and the rights to Charles’ music. Other music collections face the same battles.
Rolling Stone ranked Charles number ten on their list of “100 Greatest Artists of All Time.”