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Music publishers sue Twitter over ongoing copyright infringement

On Behalf of | Jul 19, 2023 | Entertainment Law |

Twitter’s problems continue to mount. The company is now facing a $250 million+ lawsuit by three entertainment titans and other music publishers for mass copyright infringement. The lawsuit was announced after Twitter’s continued refusal to get licensing rights for music posted on the site. 

Its primary competitors on social media have all secured such rights through licensing deals that allow posts of music videos and other content containing licensed music. These deals allow the creators and others who share in the rights to that music to be compensated for its use.

Takedown and other notices ignored

According to the plaintiffs, which include Sony, Universal and Warner and a host of other music publishers represented by the National Music Publishers Association, the company has ignored hundreds of thousands of “takedown” notices for some 1,700 pieces of music. Many involve repeat offenders.

The suit claims that Twitter “consistently and knowingly hosts and streams infringing copies of music compositions.” It notes that “Twitter then monetizes those tweets and users via advertising, subscriptions, and data licensing, all of which serve to increase Twitter’s valuation and revenues.”

The problem is nothing new. The National Music Publishers’ Association began sending regular infringement notices to Twitter in Dec. 2021 and was notified about having more than 300,000 tweets on its site that were copyright infringements. Even members of Congress called on former CEO Jack Dorsey to implement “robust content protection technology.” 

However, any moves toward taking action to stop the unapproved posting of copyrighted work by the company seem to have ended when Elon Musk took over. According to the lawsuit, Twitter “often waited weeks, a month, or even longer if it acts at all” to remove them.

Plaintiffs say Twitter isn’t implementing its own policy

The issue, according to the music publishers, is that while the company has a policy to address terminating those users who are guilty of copyright infringement, they aren’t notifying users of that policy, nor are they imposing it. According to the plaintiffs, “Users who repeatedly infringe copyrights do not face a realistic prospect of permanently losing access to their accounts on the Twitter platform.” Thus, they say, it’s become “a haven for infringing activity.”

Musicians, writers, actors and a host of others in creative fields face a whole new wave of 21st-Century challenges to their ability to protect their work from being used without their permission and appropriate compensation. Those working to protect their rights can benefit from experienced legal guidance.