Will You be Able to Hear the Music You Love on United?

You can listen to Britney Spears, Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake and others on United – if you bring the music on your own electronic device. Less clear is whether you can still hear those artists on United Airlines planes via its on-demand inflight sound service because of a lawsuit filed this week by Sony Music.

United’s favorite tune returns

Sony Files Suit

The recording giant claims it did not give United, Inflight Productions and Rightscom permission to feature its recordings on the airline’s on-demand audio/video system. In other words, the airline and the other two companies allegedly gave passengers access to copyrighted music without securing the necessary licensing agreements. According to one media report, Sony is seeking $150,000 per song based on federal copyright law.

FareCompare contacted United for more information but a spokesperson told us they do not comment on pending litigation. According to its website, you can enjoy “thousands of songs” on aircraft offering on-demand systems but no artists are named (though the fine print says, “Entertainment selections are subject to change”).

Dancing flight attendants

Other Unusual Airline Music Situations

This makes one wonder about a recent pre-planned performance of Harlem Shake by a bunch of college students on a Frontier flight – were royalty licenses secured in that scenario? Note: The shake in question was a dance craze first but a tune by that title was recorded in 2012. Then there was that live music performance by the flight attendants on the Philippines airline Cebu Pacific who danced their way through safety instructions to the pounding beat of Lady Gaga. Could this be an issue of royalties/licencing? We seriously doubt it, but – who knows?

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Published: October 25, 2013