On March 20, 2014, Tutm Entertainment, a media company known for producing music albums such as ‘Hits of the 80s’ and ‘Hits of the 90s,’ was hit with a class action suit in New Jersey federal court. The suit, headed by lead plaintiff Celeste Farrell, is seeking over $5 million in damages for advertising practices Farrell claims constitute consumer fraud.
In particular, Farrel’s filing accused Tutm of releasing albums that appeared to contain the original versions of classic hits such as “Cult of Personality” by Living Colour, or “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice, when they actually contained re-recordings of the popular songs. It noted, “Instead of conveying the source of the recording to allow the consumer to make an informed purchase decision, Tutm provides no information on the albums’ cover or back label to indicate to the consumer that the songs are not the original songs.”
Artists often re-record their classic hits in order to make more money from them after their original record contracts expire. Other artists re-record classic hits after recapturing their copyrights in those songs; this can be done 35 years after the original copyright grant as provided by the Copyright Act of 1976. Theoretically, these practices would allow musicians to profit once more from their old hits while selling the music to consumers at a discount. Had Tutm properly marketed the classic songs in a more transparent way, it could have avoided this whole mess. Instead, Tutm will now face the real music – in court.