Chuck Berry Sues Karaoke Distributors: Rock Pioneer Says They’re Not Licensed To Carry His Music

(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — The next time you punch in “Johnny B. Goode” at the karaoke spot so you can get your duck-walk on, understand that the song’s publisher – rock-n-roll legend Chuck Berry – sees not a penny of that royalty money.

The 79-year-old artist has filed a lawsuit Monday against three leading karaoke distributors in North America – UAV Corp. of Fort Mill, South Carolina, Madacy Entertainment of Montreal and Top Tunes Inc. of Hilliard, Ohio – claiming they sold sing-along versions of his most popular hits without paying royalties or obtaining licenses.

Unlike many artists of his era, Berry owns all the publishing rights to his songs through his Isalee Music Co., his lawyer, Peter Haviland, told Reuters. Berry stands to pocket several hundred thousand dollars for each of his songs, including such hits as "Maybellene" and "My Ding-A-Ling." The suits seek royalties that are alleged to have gone uncollected on more than two dozen songs in all.

Haviland also represents several copyright holders of lesser-known songs who filed similar actions in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

The suits seek royalties that are alleged to have gone uncollected on more than two dozen songs in all.

A New York Times article in May estimated the collective revenues generated by karaoke record labels at $50 million a year.

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