BHS Music Department being sued for copyright infringement


One of our great commenters just linked us to this press release:


PHOENIX, April 21, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Tresóna Multimedia, LLC, a music licensing firm representing music publishers for custom arrangement licensing, synchronization licensing and dramatic rights licensing, has filed a lawsuit in Federal Court, Federal District of Arizona (No. CV 16-975-PHX-PGR) against Burbank High School Vocal Music Association (BHSVMA), the promotional company and operator of the famous Burbank Show Choirs, and the host of the Burbank Blast Show Choir Festival for allegedly infringing 98 music compositions without license. Also named in the suit is Burbank’s show choir director Brett Carroll, who occasionally performs with his groups.

According to the complaint, this corporation’s tax returns show that in the past year they spent $98,000 on costumes, $40,000 for choreographers, $198,000 on ‘other outside services,’ $40,000 on arrangers, and $89,000 on travel expenses but have not obtained any custom arrangement licenses for the music they perform at shows all over the country. The total cost of the 40 custom arrangement licenses that Burbank uses each year would be less than 2% of their $500,000 annual budget.

“The majority of show choirs recognize the rights holders and obtain the proper licenses. It is unfortunate that some programs do not,” said Larry Mills, EVP of Tresóna. “Tresóna tried very hard to work with the Burbank High School Vocal Music Association over the last two years, encouraging them to obtain the legally required licenses and to simply recognize the rights of the songwriters. It is disappointing that this is happening in the very cradle of creativity for the entertainment industry.”

Michael Eames, President of PEN Music Group and the Association of Independent Music Publishers (AIMP), said, “Unfortunately, my client’s songs have been used without their permission and I have spent many hours on this issue, pleading with Burbank’s show choirs for the last two years to do the right thing and obtain proper licensing. PEN issues licenses to other show choirs operating in Burbank’s district and all over the country, so it is upsetting that Burbank has not obtained the required licenses. As an independent publisher, my writers are always appreciative when their music is licensed and they are able to make a living from their hard work.”

According to the Copyright Act, anyone who creates a derivative work, which includes a custom arrangement, must obtain permission in advance from the rights holder. The rates for these are negotiated on a case-by-case basis.


Why in hell is the BUSD getting involved in public/private shell corporations like this? Can you imagine Reg Hall needing to form an outside company to help produce (or hide behind) his many Burbank High shows? Or hire private arrangers?

That’s the problem here — and now Burbank taxpayers are being dragged into the hassle.

Isn’t high school for high school kids?

The gross institutionalism going on here is appalling. This is fucking high school were talking about, not Disney or General Motors. And they’re using the “Burbank” name as well as directly tying it to BHS.

These guys like to play artistic businessman, and look what happens. They can’t even do it right or proper. Who gave them their legal advice here to avoid getting the song rights? The BUSD’s lawyers? Sounds like it.

Any lawyers? The plaintiff says that one of the accused on the group’s board of directors actually works in intellectual property.

This BHS show last month was just a sitting duck for a legal action like this. Don’t they know that people are always watching for these infringement cases, especially in show biz Southern California? It can also be monitored in other ways by these rightsholders organizations

Was this copyright-free thing an inducement to get the other schools to show up? We’ll handle the rights problems for you guys? And they apparently didn’t.

Here’s one of the songs they are alleged to have stolen:


First Amended Complaint Filed 2016 04 19.pdf Google Drive


Tresóna could have easily added the BUSD onto their list of defendants, because the district is clearly in bed with this group, and they also use its facilities in their violations as part of a promotional effort on behalf of the school. But it also knows that this school board would spend $20 million in legal fees just to avoid spending $40,000 in rights monies.

Something we’re sure that most of the board members — and especially Applebaum — are mighty proud of.









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66 responses to “BHS Music Department being sued for copyright infringement

  1. Here’s a thought: kids should learn how to write and perform their own songs.

  2. Carol

    No surprise here at all the school district is one crooked mess so if they cheat on copyright what else do they cheat on ? Maybe bond money ?

  3. R.S.

    Just another gimmick by the school board to hide what is really going on and you got it looks like now it will cost the tax payers due to their mismanagement. How about raises for the teachers instead of foolish decisions that take up all the money ?

    • semichorus

      Tresóna was smart not to bring the BUSD in on this lawsuit. They don’t have to, either. The most it will do anyway is bankrupt the “Vocal Music Association.”

      If the school board gets involved in court they’ll spend anything they can to avoid doing the right thing. Tresóna knows this, as does every attorney , and there’s not much money involved to this case.

  4. Barbara

    Did the school district issue like a press release and deny they used the songs ? Have they admitted this happened ? My problem is always in trusting these people with our communities children when they do not stand up and admit they are wrong. What kind of example is that to our children ? What kind of example do they teach in school with theft or property ?

    • semichorus

      The BUSD will try to claim that it’s not the BUSD. But what it really is is a shell company that’s being used by the BUSD to hide behind for their own plainly obvious vocal music endeavors at BHS. The group can also use their legal independence to then split off and go out on its own as a quasi-private thing– while still claiming a BHS connection.

      Confused, everyone?

      And this is high school? Gimme a break.

  5. BF

    “Unfortunately, my client’s songs have been used without their permission and I have spent many hours on this issue, pleading with Burbank’s show choirs for the last two years to do the right thing and obtain proper licensing.”

    That statement really bothers me. It tells me that the Schools knew they were stealing materials for several years but kept right on doing it and involved the kids in the theft. Somebody at the school district should go to jail.

  6. Anonymous

    Barbara if they did deny it I would not trust them they are all crooked

  7. Sue

    Question how is there some show choirs at the schools that is not under the school principal and the school board ? It sounds like nobody controls what goes on at schools

  8. CornFused

    Different subject about BUSD…been bugging me for a few days now.

    My kid came home the other day and mentioned that he had to sit through a whole class devoted to some “3rd party company” that Burbank’s tied into about bullying. It was a survey listing every kids name in 9th grade with multiple choice questions ranging from popularity to if they have bullying tendencies. Lots of questions.

    So it seems like Burbank is now using their own students to profile the other students. Obviously the students (kids being kids) are putting their friends names in the categories they normally wouldn’t, just so they can laugh about it after. What happens to this info after? What does the 3rd party have to do with it?

    My kid didn’t participate since he never brought the permission form home…but his name was still part of the survey. The teacher was pushing him pretty hard to participate as well.

    Am I paranoid or is this just wrong? I’m pretty close to contacting the school about this.

    • semichorus

      What? WHAT?

      Kids ranking other kids? For a private company?


      I’ll try to ask about it.

        • Larry

          Cornfused who is the third party ? Why are they even allowed in schools ?

          • semichorus

            I’ll try to find out.

            If true, it’s sicker than sick can be.

            1). Confidential info and/or opinions about individual students being data-mined by a private company,

            2) The kids themselves being deputized to report on and monitor their fellow students– and for exactly what?

            And what are they gonna do with the info? Play Tom Cruise and go after the accused before they do anything? Treat kids with strong opinions as potential “bullies”?

            Or the ones who are unpopular?

            Don’t be surprised either if the BUSD is getting money for this from that company. Data-mining of students is big, big business now

    • Gary

      OMG welcome to the new communist Burbank Schools where were the KGB comes in to do the training

  9. Nancy

    We really have to start waking up to what these people are bringing into the schools. Did everyone see this news story from Manhattan Beach ? This might be one of the same 3rd parties in our schools too. We all ned to keep our eyes open because anything can be going on in schools anything from music theft to molestation or teaching them jihad

    • semichorus

      I think it’s TIME for a jihad down there. This is all so sick and corrupt(ing).

    • semichorus

      If this is really happening then all anyone needs to do is file a complaint with the Dept of Education. Heads would roll.

      Anyone could file a formal complaint about such a blatant Constitutional violation.

      • Nancy

        I think it is happening it is on our local news. I wonder if any Burbank schools are teaching the kids all about Mohamad and the Jihad

  10. Jon

    Ok so
    According to the complaint, this corporation’s tax returns show that in the past year they spent $98,000 on costumes, $40,000 for choreographers, $198,000 on ‘other outside services,’ $40,000 on arrangers, and $89,000 on travel expenses

    • Anonymous

      That is really a boatload of money where does all that come from ?

    • semichorus

      No, the Vocal Music Association set up a shell company with this guy so that he and they (the BUSD) could go out and do lots of promotional concerts, including BHS’s own. Along with that county sing-out they did last month.

      It’s all very sleazy and convoluted. It’s nice to know too that our high school kids’ music assemblies are not real any more — they’re put together by outside slicksters, promoters, arrangers, and choreographers.

      Who … don’t and won’t pay royalties.

      This grand-scale mickey-mouse kind of crap has GOT to stop. This is HIGH SCHOOL we’re talking about.

      • Jan

        It looks like the slicksters that out it together get way too much money but I don’t understand where all that money comes from do they get sponsors from the studios and the recording industry and they say thanks by ripping off the intellectual property ? Everyone in my office is talking about this one by the way. The industry in Burbank needs to look at all their you tube videos of performances and see if they have been ripped off as well. We are all looking here where I work.

      • 91505

        so the schools are exploiting the kids for money ? WTF they are sickos

        • semichorus

          In a way, yes. That too. The kids make money for this “association” of pseudo-professional adults.

          • Anonymous

            It is time to just take your kids out of the schools and find a good private school. We should all push for vouchers so we can place our kids where it is a good school.

            • semichorus

              Most private schools are just as bad. Or worse.

              What’s going on here is the public schools emulating elitist private school crap. They’re not acting like public schools any more.

  11. Anonymous 4

    I think they should also sue the school and the school district. Think about it maybe this some phony 3rd party thing that some board member like Applebaum runs behind the scenes but isn’t the school and the district responsible no matter what when it goes on with students at their school and at their school ? I say the owners should sue the school rats and sue them hard for mismanagement and incompetence

    • semichorus

      What’s happening is that the people who run the schools now just LOVE this kind of privatization crap.

      That’s why they hired the latest superintendent. He’s from that crowd ideologically.

      And this is what happens.

      • a voter

        Privatization of schools ? You are right let’s declare our own JIHAD on the school district in Burbank.

      • DixieFlyer

        Can’t buy your last, Mr. semi.

        This situation predates Mr. Hill’s tenure.

        The Plaintiff’s claim they tried for TWO years to resolve this problem.

        Matt Hill has been here about ONE year.

        Let’s watch what when and how Mr. Hill addresses this situation.


        • semichorus

          Yes, apparently this contracting-out scheme for the vocal music arts programs has been going on for some time.

          I knew it was happening in other districts (the Times had a big story about it several years ago), but I wasn’t aware that it was so developed here.

          The BUSD needs to take back these activities. This is what happens when a good, simple idea goes bad.

  12. a parent

    The reason they have the “shill corporation” Semichorus is because that way they only allow the children they want to participate and part of how they do it is by how much a child’s parents must pay into the “shill corporation” if you want to be involved. It really is a way to exclude the children they do not want in the programs. Look into it and ask just how much it costs to be part of the school music program.

    • semichorus

      Makes sense, yes. They set up a separate entity so that they can charge for entry, which would be illegal under state and federal law for a regular HS program. Then they can also pick and choose who gets to apply.

      I’d love to hear more about this from the parents.

      I’d love to know too why this “association” continually denied the demand/compliance letters and requests from the licensees’ attorney. Because that’s what they did.

      • anonymous parent

        Due to the threats of intimidation of your child most will not say much on this Semichorus but it is true you must be well off to afford the music program and there is no exception

        • semichorus

          Wow. I had no idea about this big money/cost/income/expense thing in the HS arts programs.

          It never used to be this way. It’s just so sick and offensive, isn’t it? Talk about massively screwed up priorities.

          And now they got caught.

          None of it really surprises me though. Just look at the school leadership the last 25 years or so. To an individual they’ve all been assholes and thugs.

          • Carol

            There are a lot of assholes at the schools, just to name a few
            Almond Arkahenan

            what are we thinking when we trust our kids to these insane people

          • Y.K.

            Aren’t they required to gave a full financial reporting to the taxpayers for every penny spent and just where the pennies came from ? Remember not that long ago some of the hired arts people molested some of the students ? Wasn’t that in the news ? You mean money comes from someplace to hire these people and they get paid big to do it. Does this mean they are not really even back ground checked and they don’t really work for the school ?

  13. Scott

    dedicated to the TRAMPS AND THEIVES at the school board

  14. anonymous

    Here is one of the big problems at the schools its name is Almond

    • Carl

      Yeah Mr Nolan. I bet if he looked into this he could fix this problem fast, it just takes some sincere concern and common sense something that cookie man does not even have an ounce of

  15. Sandy

    In my opinion there is no way this much money should be spent on High School Productions and doing so for whatever reason is just insane. There are people who are homeless and kids that live in cars and they spend this much money on productions ? I bet the money is ill gotten to but just what is the source of it all.

    • semichorus

      It’s high school productions that also go on the road, apparently. But it sounds like they’re not really HS.

  16. Y.K.

    I think this is the people who run this music stuff ?

  17. Ernie

    Mr Nolan should grab his flashlight and shine a light on this music scandal

    • Mark

      The people running these schools are morons. They need to concentrate on education and they focus on everything but education. Glad they are getting sued again. Parents need to start doing class lawsuits on them for eveeything they do.

    • Anonymous

      It is true check the music program for poor people. You won”t find them. The program is rich, elitist and private. But it operates as part of the school program and operates at the school. That is all true.

      • semichorus

        I’m starting to see the big picture now. The BUSD has allowed its arts program (like VM) to be spun off and incorporated — which means that the district then loses most of its control over them.

        And so things like this happen– and in their name.

        So ultimately it’s the Burbank School Board’s fault for allowing these corporate charters to be granted.

    • Karen

      These school people are self righteous and despicable human beings.

  18. Bryan

    Burbank High School getting sued is all over the internet

    it is even on the Las Vegas Nevada blog

    but zip in the Burbank Leader lol why is the Leader hiding this from everybody ?

  19. 91501

    Prince passed away today so I guess they can steal all his music now over at Burbank High School ?

  20. Burbank Resident

    It sure doesn’t help when schools teach the next generation that it is ok to just steal and use music. if this goes on in the heart of the media industry how can we expect less across the country. Burbank schools should be ashamed of themselves. Many of the kids in the schools are supported by parents who work in the industry, SHAME ON THE BURBANK SCHOOLS !

  21. No fan of applesbomb

    Maybe applesbomb should pull out his check book and cover this. He is a bloated fat cat know it all right ?

  22. themusicman

    It’s sad to read all the comments from people who really have no idea what they are talking about!

  23. Concerned Alumni

    I’m not condoning what Carrol did regarding the violations, but the program itself is beautiful to those who are in it. It is a little pricy, but if you talk to Carrol or the VMA board, they will work with you. I was in the program for the better part of four years and they became my family, saving me from suicide. I was in a horrible place before I moved to LA and couldn’t get myself out of the hole. Carrol allowed me in through a “Scholarship” and I didn’t have to pay half as much as the others because of the financial standing of my parents and I. It completely changed my life and many other of the kids who were/are in the program with me. This is a horrible thing Carrol has ignored and I can’t comment on this supposed “Shell Company” that’s littering the comments because I just don’t know. But if you have any heart at all, look at this from the perspective of the kids in the program, because I can guarantee you that I am not the only one who was saved by the program and it would be a shame for it to be destroyed because it would only hurt the students.

    And on the subject of finances, the kids raise a lot of money. We do what we do best- performing- to raise money. We do shows like our Pop Show, Night of magic- where families donate items to sell at a silent auction while the students perform- and Carrol’s Corral- where volunteers make food and the students put on a dinner and a show. We even have a program where students can sell adds to local stores to get half of whatever they sell of their bill- I personally know 5 current students who don’t pay a dime by utilizing this. Students in the program not only have a fun time performing to raise money, but they also learn great skills. I learned how to be a leader without being arrogant or bosy. I know kids who have gone from having not even one friend to being know by the. 300+ students in the program.

    Please don’t condemn the program when it does so much good for students.I know it’s hard to get in and I know it’s unfair that some students get in and others don’t, but for some of us… For some of us this saved us. Please don’t take that away.

    • semichorus

      I’m glad you had a good experience. I’m not in favor of getting rid of it at all, I just think the school board needs to step in and start giving it some major oversight. The expense for one thing is just not fair. I’d also like to see their repertoire changed and advanced.

  24. Anonymous

    Brett Caroll won. Tresona lost. Judge Wilson entered summary judgment for Carroll.

    • semichorus

      Paperwork on this?

      Carroll may have been severed from the lawsuit, but what about the VMA? Because Tresona pulled the suit in June I suspect there was a settlement. I can’t imagine any judge or jury ruling that this activity wasn’t infringement.

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