A music industry association has sued Chrysler Group, alleging its customers might be rolling down the street with stolen tunes.
At issue: Owners of some of the automaker’s vehicles have the ability to store songs and other copyrighted media on an internal hard drive without paying royalties.
The proposed class-action suit was filed Nov. 14 in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., by the Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies and also names supplier Mitsubishi Electric Automotive America Inc. as a defendant. The suit follows similar actions filed last summer by the alliance against General Motors and Ford Motor Co.
The alliance seeks damages equal to unpaid royalties on recording devices, plus additional damages. The number of vehicles covered was not clear.
The suit alleges that vehicles equipped with hard drives are digital audio recording devices under a 1992 law called the Audio Home Recording Act.
The law was intended to protect copyright holders from illegal sharing of their work without compensation.
Chrysler introduced its MyGig infotainment system in 2006 as a precursor to its Uconnect infotainment system. MyGig featured a 20 gigabyte hard drive that, according to a 2006 press release, could be used for saving “audio from a [compact disc] or USB memory device onto the hard drive.”
Chrysler’s current UConnect software allows some direct saving of music from media onto an internal hard drive, but not on all vehicles.
In a statement released online, alliance executive director Linda Bocchi says the litigation against Chrysler was filed after attempts at direct negotiations failed.
Chrysler spokesman Mike Palese said the automaker “believes the lawsuit is without merit and intends to vigorously defend against it.” Both Ford and GM are also challenging the merits of the alliance’s suits.