A handful of the biggest record labels welcomed new American Idol judge Ellen DeGeneres into the music biz with an unpleasant gift: They sued her daytime talkie The Ellen DeGeneres Show over copyrights. According to Billboard.biz, the labels allege that Ellen’s show has broadcast over 1,000 songs during the “dance over” segment of the show — when Ellen dances through the audience while moving from stage to stage — without ever paying for the licenses.
Per papers filed at a U.S. District Court in Nashville on September 9th, when the labels asked the Ellen show producers how come they never sought to acquire permission to use the songs, the defendants replied that they didn’t “roll that way.” Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” are just two of the literally hundreds of songs the show used without permission, Billboard.biz reports, so the show might owe quite a bit of money, though terms of the lawsuit weren’t revealed. A rep for the Ellen DeGeneres Show said they hoped to reach “amicable and reasonable terms” with the record labels.
Ironically, one of the companies suing the Ellen DeGeneres Show is Sony Music Group, home to both RCA and Jive Records — where Idols usually land if they’re successful on the show. Still, it seems that it was just coincidence that the lawsuit was filed the same day DeGeneres was named the new judge on American Idol, as the record companies and the Ellen show were reportedly working on resolving the issue.