Jazz singer Kole in copyright dispute over Oscar Peterson songs

A dispute over the music of first-class composer and musician Oscar Peterson is underway in Manhattan. The widow of the late pianist, whose music is popular among jazz enthusiasts in California and around the world, filed a copyright infringement suit against one of her husband’s former collaborators – singer Hilary Kole.

According to the intellectual property lawsuit, Kole violated music rights to four tunes she and Peterson recorded a few months before his death in late 2007. Kole allegedly gave the songs to an Internet radio station, which played at least one of the tracks.

The widow of the Grammy-winner is suing Kole for $1 million in damages. The copyright claim also calls for the recovery of the songs.

Court records say Kole was employed by Peterson’s producer at the time of the 2006 recordings. The producer allegedly requested the collaboration between the musicians. The remix of the songs occurred the following year, during the same time Kole prepared to honor Peterson with a Carnegie Hall tribute performance.

Artists have intellectual property rights that permit them to copy and sell their unique products exclusively. The Peterson lawsuit may surround the percentage of rights the singer and the jazz pianist shared for the four songs in dispute.

The songs were never released. Kole is accused of giving away and not selling the music for play on a radio station. A court may have to decide whether that action violated Peterson’s copyright.

Another consideration will be the widow’s stake. Intellectual property like tangible assets may be inherited. The rights to the music that was created by the pianist while he was alive – even music that was never sold to the public – most likely passed to his widow upon the musician’s death.

Settlements often resolve copyright arguments. Peterson’s widow may be hoping Kole is willing to purchase a licensing agreement so that the plaintiff and defendant can both benefit.

Source: nydailynews.com, “Widow of jazz pianist Oscar Peterson suing crooner who last recorded with Grammy-winning husband,” Robert Gearty and Ginger Adam Otis, Feb. 7, 2013