Sony Music and Ultra Records sue dance label over ‘unauthorized’ version of 2014 hit Dancin, which has over 200m streams on Spotify

Sony Music and Ultra Records have filed a lawsuit against an independent dance label called Moody Recordings over an alleged unauthorized version of a track from 2014, called Dancin.

The suit, for alleged copyright infringement, breach of a license agreement and alter ego, also names Jonas Tempel and William Renkosik (AKA DJ Bad Boy Bill) as defendants. It was filed in Colorado on Monday (April 10).

House label Moody was originally founded by Renkosik in Chicago in 1996 and was relaunched by Renkosik and Beatport co-founder and former CEO, Jonas Tempel, in 2013.

According to the lawsuit, on June 9, 2014, Sony Music Spain and Moody entered into a written exclusive license agreement,  which granted Sony the exclusive rights and to the track Dancin.

The lawsuit, which you can read in full here, states that Sony Music Spain “was assigned and given all exclusive rights in and to the Licensed Product throughout the World (except Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg)”.

Sony says that it then granted Ultra exclusive rights to the track in the United States and Canada.

(Remember, Ultra Records is now fully owned by Sony Music, after Sony acquired, in 2012, 50% of Ultra Records LLC from Patrick Moxey, after which he continued to run the label as its President and co-owner. In late 2021, Moxey struck a deal for Sony Music to acquire the remaining 50% of Ultra Records. Separately, in November, the now Sony-owned Ultra Records sued Moxey’s 18-year-old independent publishing company over Moxey’s continued use of the ‘Ultra’ name for his independent publishing company, Ultra International Music Publishing, LLC, which was first incorporated in the US in August 2004.)

Sony’s new suit against Moody Recordings claims that “sometime in 2019”, the defendants “created an unauthorized version of the Track” Dancin and made the allegedly “Infringing Product” available via various digital music streaming, distribution and download platforms.

The suit notes that the unauthorized version has been streamed over 207 million times on Spotify, while the version Sony Music and Ultra say they have the rights to has been streamed over 711 million times on Spotify alone.

Sony doesn’t actually name the artist that performs the song in the lawsuit, but on Spotify, we can see that a track, listed as Dancin (feat Luvli) – Krono Remix by Aaron Smith currently has 720 million streams.

The track, according to the info listed below the track on Spotify, is under exclusive license to Sony Music Entertainment Espana/Ultra Records from Moody Recordings USA.

Another version of the track is listed on Spotify as Dancin – Krono Remix. That version has now been streamed over 215 million times on Spotify, and according to the info below the track, the copyright belongs to Moody Recordings.

The Dancin (feat Luvli) – Original Mix was released on Spotify in 2013 by Moody Recordings and has itself been streamed 1.5 million times.

Under the copyright infringement claim section within the lawsuit, Sony argues that “the Infringing Product was an unauthorized derivative and an unauthorized reproduction of the Track”.

It adds: “Upon information and belief, as the beneficial owner i.e. one who has given up the “exclusive ‘use’ rights in exchange for a sales percentage or royalties derived from the exploitation of the copyright” Moody no longer has any “independent right to use or license the use of the copyright” in or to the Track throughout the World (except Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg).

The lawsuit claims further, under Count II, alleging Contributory Infringement”, that “the Defendants knowingly induced, participated in, aided and abetted in and profited from the illegal reproduction, distribution, public performance and other exploitation of the Infringing Product”.

Under Count IV alleging Breach of Contract, it is alleged that Sony Spain “has suffered damages in an amount that is currently unknown, which will be determined at trial, but that is believed to be in excess of one million dollars”,

Adds the lawsuit: “In addition to the foregoing, Moody’s willful and material breaches of the Exclusive License Agreement deprived Sony Spain of the main benefit of its bargain i.e. that it would be the exclusive licensee of the Licensed Product for ten (10) years which would allow it to benefit from the long-term success and promotional activities of the Track.

“As a result of Moody distributing and making available a competing version of the Track i.e. the Infringing Product, the Track that is authorized by Plaintiffs is having to compete with the Infringing Product for stream counts.”

Under the Alter Ego claim, Sony notes that Tempel and Renkosik formed Moody in July of 2013 and argues that Tempel and Renkosik should “be declared the alter ego of Moody, and as such Tempel and Renkosik should be liable for Moody’s wrongdoing as set forth in counts I-IV, jointly and severally”.Music Business Worldwide

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