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Florida Orchestra Sues Over Star Spangled Banner Release...

Florida Orchestra sues over royalties in anthem's rerelease

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Florida Orchestra is suing Arista Records for royalties from the re-release of Whitney Houston's rendition of the national anthem performed during 1991's Super Bowl XXV.

"It is a pity that we have to go to court on something so honorable and uplifting as the national anthem," said Leonard Stone, orchestra executive director. The orchestra learned of the alleged contract breach after the anthem was reissued following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and quickly became a hot selling single, Stone said.

The song had first been re-released in 2000 when it was made part of Houston's greatest hits album.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in Hillsborough Circuit Court, asks a judge to enforce terms of a 1991 agreement requiring Arista to pay orchestra royalties on all sales worldwide of Houston's rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner.

The orchestra accompanied Houston during her Super Bowl performance in Tampa. Greatest hits sales have topped 10 million copies, according to the suit.

No one was available for comment Saturday at the record company's New York office.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.

Since Sept. 11, the royalties could mean hundreds of thousands of dollar for the nonprofit orchestra, which cut its budget by $600,000 this year to $7.6 million and forced musicians to take a pay cut, Stone said.

NEWSFILE: 16 DECEMBER 2001

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