August 29, 2023 Musicology No Comments

Freeplay Music, a production music library founded by renowned composer Scott Schreer, who is best known for the iconic theme to the NFL On Fox Sports, sued CNN late last year, claiming CNN had used tracks from Freeplay across hundreds of videos airing in the Phillippines, Indonesia, Chile, and perhaps elsewhere without securing the proper licenses.

The amount of the settlement is not presently public information. For now the notice of settlement says the two parties met last week along with the mediation and arbitration provider JAMS, and were “working on executing a long form final settlement agreement.”

This case follows a similar one from 2020 in which Freeplay sued Ford for 8.1 Million. Ford stood accused of placing unlicensed Freeplay tracks in Ford’s promotional videos. You might ask where numbers like $8.1 million and $17 million come from? And the answer is from a maximum statutory damages calculation. In short, the maximum statutory damages award for a WILLFUL infringement is $150,000 per infringement. We can take Ford’s 54 alleged offenses and CNN’s 115 and do some simple multiplication to arrive at these lofty numbers.

Freeplay is a somewhat controversial figure in production music and in copyright, not only because of these two well-publicized multi-million dollar lawsuits but because they have been accused of being copyright trolls. Ford itself made a similar argument in its defense. And arguably, the name, “Freeplay” and its practices set things up confusingly. However, although Freeplay does allow free use of its music for certain purposes, its broadcast TV licenses appear to typically run about $500.

What’s really interesting is that in addition to Freeplay Music, Schreer founded a company called TuneSat, which monitors the internet and broadcasts for music use. It’s a well-respected service that helps composers track the usage of their music across worldwide media twenty-four hours a day.

Written by Brian McBrearty