Ellen DeGeneres can't dance -- legally, that is, say record labels in lawsuit

Stella may have gotten her groove back, but Ellen DeGeneres may lose hers -- if record labels win a lawsuit filed Wednesday against her popular talk show. The allegation: that the producers of The Ellen DeGeneres Show played more than 1,000 songs without permission.

Many of the songs were played during a segment of Ellen DeGeneres when the host dances onstage and then works her way into the audience. The segment, which employs a DJ to play the music, has become a signature of the program.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Nashville, doesn't name DeGeneres specifically. It does, however, allege that the daytime show's producers should have known better than to play the recordings "as sophisticated consumers of music," citing the Copyright Act and state law for pre-1972 recordings.

The show's producers allegedly told label representatives that they don't "roll that way" when asked why they didn't seek licenses to play the music, which, according to the suit, are never granted for use on daytime TV at any price.

The plaintiffs include a raft of the biggest labels in America: Arista, Atlantic, Capitol Records, Motown, Sony Music Entertainment, Virgin Records and Warner Bros. Records. The suit doesn't specify a particular dollar amount in damages.

Some of the songs played on DeGeneres's show -- as noted in the lawsuit -- include Michael Jackson's "Thriller," The Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations," and Will Smith's "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It." The popular show began its seventh season this month.

The filing of the lawsuit cast a cloud on what otherwise should be a shining week for DeGenenes, who was named the replacement for Paula Abdul as a judge on Fox's American Idol. Abdul elected last month not to sign on for a ninth year with the program, citing contract differences. Abdul, in a post on Twitter, wished DeGeneres "the best of luck."

DeGeneres' decision to join "Idol," won't affect her daytime talk show, which, she told her audience this week, she won't be leaving.
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