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Sony Music files a lawsuit against producers of Whitney Houston's biopic

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Music Business Worldwide notes a California lawsuit stating Boston-based Anthem Films, NYBO Productions, and Los Angeles-based Black Label Media entered a licensing deal days before the biopic’s release. The filmmakers never paid the agreed licensing fees with the deal in place.

The film's lead, Naomi Ackie, extensively lipsynced to recordings from the late vocalist. The production entities signed sync license deals for Houston's hits, like "The Greatest Love of All," "I Will Always Love You," and "I'm Every Woman," to be used in the film. But more than a year since the film's release, Sony Music claims they haven't received payment.

“To date, Anthem has not paid the fees, or any portion of the fees, due under the agreements,” Sony Music lawyer, Christine Lepera of Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp, wrote in the legal complaint. The aforementioned companies allegedly signed a sync license deal on Dec. 5, 2022, less than two weeks before the film's theatrical premiere”

“Unlike other types of films, musical biopics by their nature require use of the subject musician’s music, as it is nearly impossible to explain the importance of a musician’s creative genius or unique style and talent without the use of the musician’s music,” 

“SME seeks unspecific damages, including potential profit loss, citing the producers’ “willful and deliberate infringement.”


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