Music company Tutm Entertainment, which markets and sells compilation albums of hit songs from the 1980s and ’90s, was served a class action Thursday in New Jersey federal court, alleging that its products fail to label songs as re-recordings.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, New Jersey woman Celeste Farrell is leading the class action against Tutm, whose compilation albums feature songs like Gangsta’s Paradise by Coolio and Vanilla Ice‘s Ice Ice Baby. The action claims the company does not disclose that the songs on their albums are either re-recordings or live recordings, not the originals a consumer is expecting.
“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,” says the lawsuit.
“In fact, the songs in the Albums are poorly re-recorded songs taken from inferior live recordings and other re-recordings,” reads the complaint. “Plaintiff and the members of the class would not have purchased the albums if the version of the songs had been properly disclosed.”
According to the Reporter, many artists, including Vanilla Ice, return to the studio to re-record their hits so as to circumnavigate the record labels’ music licensing contracts and avoid paying copyright fees. As a result, music companies like Tutm can sell their Hits compilations at a lower price.
But the proposed class action argues that it is tantamount to fraud to sell unlabeled re-recordings this way, allegedly depriving consumers of informed choice. The lawsuit is seeking at least $5 million in damages.
“Tutm’s actions operated as a fraud, deceit, and a commercially unreasonable practice upon the consuming public,” continues the claim. “[Tutm] intended to create this confusion and misperception
through omitted critical information on the albums’ labels and covers in order to increase sales.”
There’s no word on if or how Farrell would share the damages, if awarded to her, among the other consumers victimized by their purchase of Hits of The 80’s and Hits of the 90’s. Tutm Entertainment has not yet responded to the lawsuit.