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'American Idol': House band files suit against the show

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As was first reported in the New York Post yesterday, the musicians that comprise the band on American Idol are suing the show’s producers. The suit was filed on Friday in Los Angeles by the American Federation of Musicians, and asks for at least $500,000 in damages, alleging that the show failed to adhere to aspects of the musicians’ contracts by not paying them for the resale of video and audio of their Idol performances.

If the suit is successful, the final payout is likely to be even higher than that half-million, the plaintiffs contend. “It surely will be considerably more,” Jeff Freund, the general counsel for the AFM, told EW, “once discovery is conducted and once we’re able to get a complete accounting of all of the ways in which the product has been exploited and not paid for.” The payment under contention is for producers’ use of songs in formats that extend beyond the show and its soundtrack, such as iTunes sales of audio and video from Idol‘s weekly telecasts.

American Idol is a different kind of show in a sense that it is so incredibly music-driven and there are exploitable pieces of work from the show that have a market value,” says Freund. “So there are individual songs that obviously capture people’s attention, ringtones that can be built off of the songs, the equivalent of music videos of the performances…this is a pretty music-intense show and pretty extreme conduct on the part of the producers.”

Spokespeople for Idol and its production company Fremantle Media had no comment on the suit. –Additional reporting by Michael Slezak