MySpace Sued by UMG for Copyright Infringement

Universal Music Group has filed a lawsuit against MySpace.com for allowing rampant unauthorized copying, as opposed to just unauthorized copying, and distribution of the songs and video of their artists. They are seeking damages of $150,000 per violation and MySpace must not allow any more copying or distribution of its copyrighted material. $150,000 per violation sounds pretty high, I mean, you can buy the songs on iTunes for 99 cents each and movies starting at $9.99, and so I wonder how they came up with $150,000?

Popular social-networking Web site MySpace was slapped with its first copyright-infringement lawsuit yesterday, by Universal Music Group, alleging that the site enables “rampant” unauthorized copying and distribution of its artists’ songs and videos.

The lawsuit, filed yesterday in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, said “[n]o intellectual property is safe in the MySpace world of infringement — not plaintiffs’ videos, not plaintiffs’ songs, not even songs from the unreleased album ‘Kingdom Come’ by superstar artist Jay-Z,” scheduled to go on sale next week.

MySpace denied wrongdoing and said it would fight the lawsuit. Source: Washington Post

Universal and MySpace already have some content-sharing deals in place, but Universal says that MySpace does not take the material down fast enough, while MySpace says they are in compliance with the law.

“We have been keeping [Universal] closely apprised of our industry-leading efforts to protect creators’ rights, and it’s unfortunate they decided to file this unnecessary and merit less litigation,” a spokeswoman for MySpace said in an e-mailed statement. “We provide users with tools to share their own work — we do not induce, encourage, or condone copyright violation in any way.”

On the 17th of November, MySpace announced that they are releasing a new tool that will allow content providers like Universal to mark any video or music they allege is theirs, and MySpace will remove it, promptly, they say.

MySpace.com, the world?s leading lifestyle portal, announced today plans to launch a new tool for copyright holders that makes it even easier and faster to remove content they allege is unauthorized. The tool is being tested with FOX and MLB Advanced Media and will be expanded to include other verified copyright holders.

The new tool will allow copyright holders to digitally flag any user-posted video containing content that they own and allege is unauthorized. MySpace will promptly remove all videos flagged by a copyright holder. In addition, MySpace has implemented a proprietary system to block videos that are removed at the request of a copyright owner from being re-uploaded to the site by other users. Source: Business Wire

And as Scott Karp of Publishing 2.0 noted, most user generated content is really user-appropriated content, like TV shows, movies, etc. There are some good things users are actually creating, and then there are some things they are creating that really suck, all kinds of tech content being created, how to’s, tips, instructions, if you can talk about it and show someone on your monitor how to do it, it’s being created. Many, many Second Life videos being created, check out Second Life Videos for some great examples. I’m working on creating a windows tech support video site, www.Threll.com and have been trying to gather up funny clips and videos here at www.phunymovies.com, check em out and post your favorites or even your own.

So, where are we headed? I have no idea, but I would say they can’t hold sites like MySpace entirely responsible, if you compare it to web hosting and how they can’t really be held responsible for what their users do, as long as they take it down when notified, which MySpace, Youtube and Google have been doing already.

In the article posted by the BBC, Universal claims that MySpace encourages the posting of the content, the owners of MySpace have benefited greatly from it and they would like what is due to them and their artists.

In a statement it added: “Our music and videos play a key role in building the communities that have created hundreds of millions of dollars of value for the owners of MySpace.

“Our goal is not to inhibit the creation of these communities, but to ensure that our rights and those of our artists are recognised.” Source: BBC