Universal Sues MySpace
Mon, 20 Nov 2006 16:27:37
Universal Music Group, the largest music company in the world, is taking its copyright fight to MySpace. The company announced on Friday that it is serving MySpace with a massive copyright infringement lawsuit, ending several months of protracted negotiations between the two companies.
"Businesses that seek to trade off on our content, and the hard work of our artists and songwriters, shouldn't be free to do so without permission and without fairly compensating the content creators," said a UMG statement, which also accused MySpace of being a "willing partner in that theft."
MySpace responded by calling the lawsuit "meritless" and emphasizing the recent renovations to their website that make it easier for copyright holders to remove infringing material. "We do not induce, encourage, or condone copyright violation in any way," the company said in a statement.
Universal was able to reach a licensing agreement with YouTube after similar negotiations, but is now seeking up to $150,000 for each video or song posted on MySpace without permission -- which, unscientifically calculated, adds up to around 600 bajillion dollars. The gigantic Universal roster includes U2, Kanye West, Black Eyed Peas, The Killers, and Mariah Carey.
The new album from another Universal artist, Jay-Z, was leaked on MySpace just days before the lawsuit was filed. It was unclear whether the lawsuit was already planned or if the Kingdom Come leak was the final straw that pushed Universal into litigation.
While copyright battles have traditionally been framed by fans as David vs. Goliath (see Metallica vs. Napster), the News Corp.-owned MySpace is a colossus in its own right, a ubiquitous network that was acquired last year for $580 million and ranks as the fifth-heaviest trafficked site on the Internet. Already, MySpace's "audio fingerprinting" -- designed to curb the uploading of copywritten music to the site -- has sent some users running for less-scrutinized social networking sites.
--The ARTISTdirect Staff