Universal Music Sues MySpace For Infringement
Universal Music Group has sued MySpace.com, arguing that the online social-networking portal encourages its users to illegally share music and music videos on the site without permission.
The recording company is seeking unspecified damages, including up to $150,000 for each unauthorized music video or song posted on the Web site.
The lawsuit filed Friday is the latest legal salvo in a wider conflict between established media against Internet companies whose technology is challenging the traditional ways music, video and other content are distributed and consumed.
In its complaint, filed in U.S. District Court, Universal Music contends MySpace, a unit of News Corp., attempts to shield itself from liability by requiring users agree to grant the Web site a license to publish the content they upload to the site. Users, of course, have no such authority over works they do not own.
The Web site also “encourages, facilitates and participates in the unauthorized reproduction, adaptation, distribution and public performance,” according to the suit. Universal contends that much of the media posted by users of MySpace is not user-generated at all, but actually music and videos stolen from copyright owners. “MySpace is a willing partner in that theft,” the lawsuit claims.
MySpace issued a statement saying it is in full compliance with copyright laws and is confident it will prevail in court. “We have been keeping UMG closely apprised of our industry-leading efforts to protect creators’ rights, and it’s unfortunate they decided to file this unnecessary and meritless litigation,” the statement read. “We provide users with tools to share their own work — we do not induce, encourage, or condone copyright violation in any way.”
MySpace is currently testing technology aimed at enabling content owners to flag videos on the site that they find contain unauthorized copyrighted material. The flagged content is then removed by MySpace. The company expects to roll out the feature in a few weeks. Currently, MySpace must manually take down content from its users’ pages when it receives a notice from a copyright holder.
Last month, MySpace began using “audio fingerprinting” technology to block users from uploading copyrighted music to the site. That technology works by checking audio files against a music database from Gracenote Inc.
Last month, Universal Music filed separate copyright infringement lawsuits against online video-sharing sites run by Grouper Networks Inc. and Bolt Inc.