A group of 17 music publishers sued Twitter on Wednesday alleging copyright infringement on nearly 1,700 songs, and is seeking $250 million in damages as the latest headache for the Elon Musk-owned social media platform.
The publishers filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court in Nashville, saying Twitter violated copyright law by allowing users to post music to the platform without permission. Talks broke down months ago to forge a comprehensive licensing agreement between Twitter and the music industry.
“Twitter stands alone as the largest social media platform to outright refuse to license the millions of songs on its service,” David Israelite, president of the trade group, the National Music Publishers Association, said in a statement.
Twitter and Mr Musk did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The suit details what the publishers say is Twitter’s failure to police massive violations of music copyrights on the service. It pointed to specific tweets that used music without permission, including a post about Rihanna’s song “Umbrella” that the suit said contained two minutes of the song’s music video. The post had 221,000 views and 15,000 likes, the suit said, but not the song’s publishers.
The suit asked for statutory damages of up to $150,000 for each of the approximately 1,700 infringed works, for a total of $250 million.
Music publishers represent the copyrights of songwriting and composition, which are separate from the copyrights of recordings.
The suit also documents music publishers’ efforts to notify Twitter of infringement through protocols outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a 1998 law that protects Internet service providers when users post copyrighted material. , but outline a series of guidelines for how they might happen. Took it down
According to the suit, the National Music Publishers Association notified Twitter of nearly 300,000 tweets with infringing music since December 2021. The company routinely delayed or failed to act on those notices, the suit said.
Twitter was in talks with three major music labels – Universal, Sony and Warner – for licensing rights through 2021, however talks stalled after Mr Musk’s $44 billion acquisition of the company in October. Deals for music rights, which require social media companies to compensate publishers and record labels when users post or play content with songs, can cost more than $100 million a year. .
Since buying Twitter, Mr Musk has cut costs by laying off staff, skipping rent payments and refraining from paying bills to various vendors. Advertising revenue has declined and Mr. Musk’s acquisitions leave the company facing billions of dollars in debt payments. Mr Musk has said that Twitter is on its way to bankruptcy.
The suit tries to use Mr Musk’s own words against them. It cited a series of his tweets in which he said that current copyright law is “absurd beyond protecting the original creator.” He couple“Overzealous DMCA is a plague on humanity.”