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Poker Media Company Owned By PokerStars Sued For Millions

Record Labels and Music Publishers Seek Damages For Copyright Infringement

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Some of the world’s leading record labels and music publishers sued poker media giant iBus Media, a PokerStars majority-owned company that operates PokerNews.com, on Nov. 16, 2018 for millions of dollars.

Plaintiff record labels include Roc-A-Fella Records, Capitol Records, UMG Recordings, Universal Music and PolyGram Publishing. They collectively state in the complaint that PokerNews “incorporated significant portions of Plaintiffs’ copyrighted works” and that “iBus Media does not have any license or other authorization from Plaintiffs to reproduce, distribute, adapt or publicly perform in the United States any of Plaintiffs’ copyrighted musical works.”

The complaint includes 315 examples of infringements, with artists ranging from Guns N’ Roses to Ludacris. It also claims iBus Media was notified in December 2015 that it was infringing on content owned by the Plaintiffs, yet iBus Media continued to reproduce and distribute copyrighted musical works.

“Accordingly, iBus Media is liable for its infringement of Plaintiffs’ copyright interests, either because it has directly engaged in infringing activities or because it is secondarily liable for infringing activities undertaken by others,” the complaint adds.

The suit claims these podcasts are available “for streaming and/or download by iBus Media through audioBoom, iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, and Stitcher.” The ‘PokerNews Podcast’ has released 522 total episodes, 289 of which are currently listed on iTunes.

Some Of The Artists And Songs Listed In The LawsuitPoker player Tony G created PokerNews.com in 2002 but the site is now controlled by majority-owner PokerStars. PokerNews posted a story on Oct. 31, 2017 titled iBus Media Management Explains Company’s Growth and Confirms Ownership Rumors where it stated “Tony G (Antanas Guoga) founded iBus Media as PokerNews almost 15 years ago, however, since 2010, he has steadily sold his equity in stages to the Stars Group who currently own a large majority of the business which Tony has now exited.”

The complaint adds that the iBus Media employs or has employed content creation staff in California. “These employees include an editor for PokerNews that is based in Los Angeles, California and multiple employees in Nevada and other locations throughout the United States, including the Head of Video and Podcasting. iBus Media also maintained an office in San Diego during the period of infringement as alleged herein,” it states.

The record companies are seeking a substantial payout, stating they are “entitled to damages and to the Defendants’ profits in the amounts to be proven at trial. Alternatively, the Record Company Plaintiffs are entitled to maximum statutory damages of $150,000 for each copyright infringed.”

The suit adds “iBus Media was notified that it was infringing Plaintiffs’ copyrighted works nearly three years ago. Nevertheless, iBus Media continues to infringe. iBus Media’s infringement is therefore willful and deliberate.”