Musicians Union Sues Fox, Universal Over 'Simpsons' Music (Exclusive)

The Simpsons Ride - P 2012
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The Simpsons Ride - P 2012

So it had to end sometime.

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Fox's The Simpsons is in its 24th season, a remarkable achievement in itself, but one that's even more incredible because the show has experienced its run until now without major litigation. As Homer Simpson and company face the inevitable end, whenever that might be, the good-luck streak could be over.

Last week, the American Federation of Musicians sued 20th Century Fox and NBC Universal over music from The Simpsons.

Read the Complaint Here

Specifically, the union is objecting to a Simpsons roller coaster attraction at Universal Studios Theme Park in Hollywood that has been featuring the recorded music soundtrack from the show. The plaintiff union filed the lawsuit in California federal court, alleging that Universal obtained the recording without providing any notice.

According to the complaint, both Fox and Universal are parties to a 2010 agreement with the musicians guild that "include(s) a broad restriction on new uses" of music recorded for TV shows,

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Such recorded tunes purportedly are supposed to be used as "originally prepared" except for advertising, rehearsing, the edification of company executives and other limited instances. And when music is dubbed for phonographic records, there are certain provisions for payment and credits.

The lawsuit states, "Universal's use of music sound track from The Simpsons at its park does not fall within any of the new use exceptions enumerated in Article 8 of the Agreement and, thus, is not an authorized new use under the Agreement."

Universal is objecting, of course. According to the complaint, the entertainment giant is contending that the use of the soundtrack is "promotional" in nature.

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Meanwhile, the lawsuit adds that Fox is contending that it has transferred some of its intellectual property rights in The Simpsons to Universal.

But that hasn't taken Fox off the hook.

The American Federation of Musicians is suing both companies for breach of the labor agreement and is seeking injunctive relief. Further, the union wants economic damages for the musicians employed in the recording of the music for The Simpsons.


A Universal spokesperson sends the following comment: “Universal Studios Hollywood denies the claims made by the American Federation of Musicians. No other comment on pending litigation will be made.”

Fox did not respond to requests for comment.

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