Comedians Are Finally Taking on Streamers – and Their Copyright Claims Are No Joke

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“If these allegations are true, then this would be like the Napster of comedy,” one entertainment lawyer tells TheWrap

A mob is forming at the gates of the music-streaming industry — an angry, threatening, albeit quite funny, mob.

Comedians and streaming companies are on the brink of a legal war over copyright payments akin to what the music industry went through over the past two decades. And the opening shots have been fired: Multiple lawsuits against Sirius XM-owned Pandora this year have the potential to significantly upgrade the value of comedy, podcasts and other spoken-word recordings for generations to come, legal experts tell TheWrap.

The lawsuits — one from Lewis Black on July 7 and a batch filed in February by several comics including the estates of George Carlin and Robin Williams — are packed with receipts, claiming they’ve been underpaid or stiffed altogether for performances already streamed thousands of times on Pandora.