About the Sound Choice Lawsuits
Simply put, what is happening is theft. Sound Choice's intellectual property is being stolen by karaoke hosts, who use it to make money without paying Sound Choice a dime. Sound Choice has seen a steady decline in its sales, even though karaoke is more popular than ever. Sound Choice was once a thriving company with more than 75 employees and it released as many as 100 new songs a month. Today it has fewer than 10 employees and rarely releases new products because the level of piracy impacted sales so drastically that it cannot recoup the cost of licensing and recording.
In 2009, in response to this overwhelming piracy, Sound Choice began to enforce its intellectual property rights more vigorously by initiating lawsuits in several states against hosts and venues that were using unauthorized copies of Sound Choice's accompaniment tracks to make money and against pirates selling illegal systems preloaded with Sound Choice content. To date, Sound Choice has filed fourteen federal lawsuits, and many more are planned. The current lawsuits are:
Slep-Tone Entertainment Corp. et al. v. Gorrell et al., No. CV-09-1462-PHX-MHM (D. Ariz.)
Slep-Tone Entertainment Corp. et al. v. Kay et al., No. 3:09cv418 (W.D.N.C.)
Slep-Tone Entertainment Corp. et al. v. Jimmy's Southern Pub, LLC et al., No. 3:09cv436 (E.D. Tenn.)
Slep-Tone Entertainment Corp. et al. v. Associated Consultants et al., No. 1:09cv1390 (E.D. Va.)
Slep-Tone Entertainment Corp. v. Kara-O-King Inc. et al., No. 5:10cv71 (N.D. Fla.)
Slep-Tone Entertainment Corp. v. Karaoke Kandy Store et al., No. 1:10cv990-LW (N.D. Ohio)
Slep-Tone Entertainment Corp. v. Lanning et al., No. 1:10cv1421 (N.D. Ohio)
Slep-Tone Entertainment Corp. v. Arrowood et al., No. 2:10cv592 (S.D. Ohio)
Slep-Tone Entertainment Corp. et al. v. Astro Enterprises, Inc. et al., No. 1:10cv752 (E.D. Va.)
Slep-Tone Entertainment Corp. v. Morgan et al., No. 1:10cv207 (N.D. Fla.)
Slep-Tone Entertainment Corp. v. Mainville et al., No. 3:11cv122-GCM (W.D.N.C.)
Slep-Tone Entertainment Corp. v. Johnson et al., No. 5:11cv32-RS-MD (N.D.Fla.)
Slep-Tone Entertainment Corp. v. Allen et al., No. 5:11cv00069-RS-EMT (N.D.Fla.)
Slep-Tone Entertainment Corp. v. Tequila Mexico of Pensacola, Inc. et al., No. 5:11cv00191-MCR-EMT (N.D.Fla.)
Click on the button to the left of each suit to get a copy of the complaint.
These lawsuits allege that the defendants have committed a civil offense known as "trademark counterfeiting" or "trademark infringement involving counterfeiting." Sound Choice's accompaniment tracks are marked with its federally registered trademarks. When a karaoke host or someone manufacturing illegal systems makes an unauthorized copy of a track, that host is creating counterfeit goods and applying the Sound Choice marks to them, because Sound Choice did not create the copy or apply the marks.
Trademark counterfeiting is a serious offense. It can lead to seizure and destruction of the infringing articles, plus damages of up to $200,000 per mark--even if the defendant did not know he or she was infringing. If the defendant did know that he or she was infringing, the damages can be up to $2 million per mark.
Individuals or businesses that have a financial benefit from providing an opportunity for such individuals or businesses to operate create a liability for themselves.
Sound Choice has tried for several years to stop this kind of infringement, without much success. We've sent letters to suspected infringers. We've offered discount programs to help hosts get legal. We've helped start an industry organization, the Karaoke Industry Alliance of America (KIAA), to promote awareness of these issues. Unfortunately, those efforts have been largely ignored.
A lawsuit is a serious matter. Sound Choice does not initiate lawsuits without undertaking an extensive investigation of an accused infringer. After the lawsuit is brought, we offer each of the defendants a reasonable settlement that includes helping them get legal by providing them with a set of Sound Choice discs, with more than 4,800 songs, to use to put on shows. We have also developed a set of guidelines for taking advantage of the MP3 Plus Graphics format in a way that keeps hosts and venues from getting sued by us. And with the introduction of our Safe Harbor program, we are now providing venues who hire karaoke hosts with a way to avoid a lawsuit by registering with us.
To learn more:
Information for Venues | Venue FAQ
Information for Hosts | Host FAQ
To sign up for the VCSH Program:
As a Venue
As a Host
Copyright © 2010 Slep-Tone Entertainment Corporation and Sound Choice Studios, Inc. All rights reserved.
This site is designed to provide information about Sound Choice's policies, the laws of the
United States regarding intellectual property, and the manner in which Sound Choice enforces its
rights. This site does not provide legal advice.