Jehovah’s Witnesses have filed a copyright lawsuit against music publisher BMG in response to Aled Jones’ latest album, Blessings.
The album touches on a range of faiths, including Quaker, Christian, Catholic, Muslim and Buddhism, through a range of hymns, texts and scriptures set to music.
However, according to reports, the complaint alleges that BMG and one or more associated individuals and corporations have infringed the copyright of one of their songs.
The issue surrounds the inclusion of the track Listen, Obey and Be Blessed, a work owned by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, a non-profit corporation that is responsible for the creation, publication and protection of original works of authorship that support the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Watch Tower claim that before Jones’ album was released, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Britain, a separate legal entity to the Pennsylvania entity, sent a letter to Jones’ manager, putting Jones on notice that Watch Tower was the owner of all copyrights in the composition; that the composition was registered with the copyright office; that Watch Tower had not granted Jones permission to use the composition in any manner; and that Watch Tower objected to Jones’ recording and reproduction of the composition in the infringing sound recording.
Jones’ manager sent a copy of Watch Tower’s letter to BMG UK before the album was released and BMG UK responded, indicating that it had obtained a license to record, reproduce and publicly perform the track from a German collective rights society called GEMA.
However, BMG UK did not provide any evidence of the license, instead telling Watch Tower to contact GEMA directly. However, GEMA claims it denied BMG’s request since GEMA did not have the right to license the work.
Watch Tower also claims that neither BMG UK or BMG US followed the statutory procedures necessary to obtain a compulsory mechanical license to use the track.
BMG UK informed Watch Tower that BMG US were in the process of obtaining such a license but it is claimed that this hadn’t been done in a timely manner.
Watch Tower is now seeking an injunction against BMG, Aled Jones and all others connected to the infringed material to prevent the song from any further reproduction, copying, distribution, performance or exploitation.
It also wants to be awarded actual damages incurred as a result of the infringement, in amounts determined at trial or, if Watch Tower prefers, statutory damages pursuant to copyright law, each with prejudgment and post-judgment interest thereon.
Finally, Watch Tower also wants to be awarded costs and attorneys’ fees incurred as a result of BMG’s alleged unlawful acts.
Picture: Aled Jones.