Record labels sue over use of songs on "Ellen" show

Host Ellen DeGeneres performs at the 79th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California, February 25, 2007. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Four of the world’s biggest recording companies have sued the producers of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” accusing them of using songs without permission.

On the popular daytime program, which averages about 3 million viewers daily, newly named “American Idol” judge and show host DeGeneres dances to popular tunes selected by a deejay.

The program is produced and distributed by various divisions of Time Warner Inc. While DeGeneres is not named specifically, the suit names her company, A Very Good Production.

The lawsuit, which seeks an unspecified amount of damages, said “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” has used more than 1,000 songs without permission.

In the lawsuit, which was filed on Wednesday in federal court in Nashville, Tennessee, the labels said that when they asked why licenses were not obtained for use of the songs, representatives for the show said they “did not roll that way.”

“As sophisticated consumers of music, defendants knew fully well that, regardless of the way they rolled, under the Copyright Act ... they needed a license to use the sound recordings lawfully,” the lawsuit stated.

The lawsuit was filed by Warner Music Group Corp, Sony Corp’s Sony Music Entertainment, Vivendi SA’s Universal Music Group, and EMI Group.

In a statement, Warner Bros said it had been working with the labels for “many months” to resolve the issue of how songs are used on the show, “after years of a good working relationship between the parties.”

“It is unfortunate that the record labels have resorted to filing a suit over a straightforward business dispute which the show has always been prepared, and remains willing, to resolve on amicable and reasonable terms,” Warner Bros said.

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Dean Goodman