Comedian George Lopez Sues Pandora for Unpaid Royalties

George Lopez
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NCLR

George Lopez has joined the chorus of comedians lining up to sue the streaming station Pandora over unpaid royalties.

In the lawsuit filed on Tuesday, Lopez claimed Pandora streamed two of his comedy albums, Right Now Right Now and Team Leader, without obtaining a proper license. He is seeking $5.5 million in compensatory damages.

“[Pandora] decided it would infringe now to ensure it had this very valuable intellectual property on its platform to remain competitive, and deal with the consequences later. Later is now,” the filing said.

George Lopez performs at ACL Live on September 10, 2021 in Austin, Texas. (Gary Miller/Getty Images)

Lopez has joined comedians Lewis Black and Andrew Dice Clay in their lawsuit against Pandora, all three of whom are being represented by Richard Busch. In the filing, Busch argued that Lopez’s work is “entitled to two copyrights — one for the recording and one for the underlying literary work,” according to The Verge.

The cases of comedian albums will hinge on whether or not spoken-word content has the same type of copyright protection (publishing rights) as music, a legal issue that has erupted in the wake of podcasting and audio streaming on services like Spotify. Per The Verge:

The ongoing fight has prompted the streamers to play defense. Spotify (which is not currently being sued over the matter) removed comedy albums by the likes of John Mulaney and Tiffany Haddish after negotiations went south. Pandora, which is particularly vulnerable because of an ill-advised financial filing that openly said it streams comedy without a publishing license, is reportedly compelling comedians to waive their publishing rights altogether.

Overall, comedians will be in a difficult position as they navigate these waters, as streamers typically resist paying royalties for spoken-word content due to the cheaper maintenance costs.

“Comedians, meanwhile, want their legal and monetary due for their works but also rely on the promotion they get from streaming to get people to their shows,” illustrated The Verge. “A resolution is likely a far way off, and industry heavyweights like George Lopez joining the fight will only further turn up the heat.”

Comedian Lewis Black has sued Pandora for $10 million over copyright infringement, with his lawsuit arguing that the streaming service should “honor the legacy of such an amazing talent.”

“It chose to illegally profit from the creative mind and literary/comedic works of Lewis Black,” the lawsuit says.


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