​Sony files lawsuit against producers of Whitney Houston biopic over unpaid licensing fees

today22/02/2024 9

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Last week, Sony Music Entertainment filed a lawsuit against producers of Whitney Houston‘s biopic, I Wanna Dance with Somebody, for its unlicensed use of the late singer’s music.

According to a filing seen by Music Business Worldwide, a legal agreement was made at the time of the film’s release for the music used in the film — however producers have not yet paid any of the licensing fees, despite being due in July 2023.

The initial agreement granted the film use of over 20 of Houston’s songs, including ‘I Will Always Love You.’ The 2022 film about the later life of the global superstar grossed $59.8 million in the box office.

Four companies are reportedly involved in the court case, including Anthem Films, NYBO Productions, and Black Label Media.

After being notified of their subsequent breach of licencing, the companies were given 15 business days to make payment.

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The BBC reports that Sony is requesting at least $3.6 million (£2.85 million) in damages, alongside a court order to stop the alleged copyright infringement — maintaining that the producers “have continued to distribute and otherwise exploit [Houston’s] recordings in connection with the film without authorisation”.

The biopic starring Naomi Ackie as the late Whitney Houston, was available for streaming on Netflix last year and received mixed reviews.

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In 2019, the Whitney Houston estate and music company, Primary Wave partnered to boost the singer’s assets. The partnership released a Kygo remix of Houston’s cover of ‘Higher Love’ by Steve Winwood.

The 2019 version would reach No. 1 on Billboard’s Dance Club Play chart and later feature in the 2022 biopic.

In 2023 Gaither Music Group released a posthumous gospel album, featuring a compilation of previously unreleased tracks by the late singer.

The album titled ‘I Go to the Rock: The Gospel Music of Whitney Houston’ was said to celebrate Houston’s “lifelong connection to gospel music,” reported Billboard.

Belle Richardson is Mixmag’s Digital Intern, follow her on Twitter

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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