NEW YORK (Reuters) - The family of late reggae singer Bob Marley said on Thursday they will sue Universal Music Group and Verizon Wireless for using the iconic pop star’s name, likeness and image without permission.
Fifty Six Hope Road Music Ltd, which is owned by the Marley family, said in a news release that Universal Music had entered an agreement with Verizon Wireless that granted the U.S. mobile service provider the right to utilize Bob Marley’s name, likeness and image to promote a new set of ringtones.
The offer, announced on Tuesday, said Verizon Wireless customers would be able to purchase ringtones of some of Marley’s music exclusively on its service.
“The agreement was entered into without the permission of the Marley Family,” said the statement from Fifty Six Hope Road Music Ltd.
Universal Music Group, the world largest music company, owns Island Records, the label through which Marley recorded most of his global hits, such as “One Love” and “I Shot The Sheriff.” His greatest hits compilation, “Legend,” is the biggest-selling reggae album of all time.
“UMG has not received any suit from the Marley Estate,” Universal Music Group said on Thursday.
The music company, owned by French media giant Vivendi, said the claims made in the press release were “meritless”.
“Specifically, we are offering Bob Marley ringtones through Verizon in accordance with the terms of a long-standing contract between Bob Marley and UMG,” Universal Music Group said.
Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications Inc and Vodafone Group.
Reporting by Yinka Adegoke