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Twitter hit with $250 million copyright infringement lawsuit from music publishers

This illustration photo displays Elon Musks Twitter account with a Twitter logo in the background. (Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

A coalition of music publishers, including Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner Chappell Music and Sony Music Publishing, is suing Twitter over “massive copyright infringement” involving the companies’ respective music catalogs.

Seventeen music publishers, who hold the rights to music from artists including Drake, Taylor Swift and Adele, filed the joint lawsuit in Tennessee federal court. They seek more than $250 million in damages.

Elon Musk’s X Corp, which owns Twitter, is the sole defendant.

“Twitter stands alone as the largest social media platform that has completely refused to license the millions of songs on its service,” David Israelite, chief executive of the National Music Publishers’ Association, said in a statement. “Twitter knows full well that music is leaked, launched, and streamed by billions of people every day on its platform. No longer can it hide behind the (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) and refuse to pay songwriters and music publishers.”

Israelite accused Twitter of platforming leaked music, copyrighted music videos and other material. Under DMCA rules, Twitter and other social media websites are protected against copyright strikes over user-uploaded material, provided they work to remove infringing material and punish the offending users.

However, the lawsuit argues Twitter has failed to do so.

“Twitter further claims that it expeditiously removes content in response to valid claims, nearly always within hours of initial reports, if not in minutes,” the lawsuit reads. “But the reality is that Twitter routinely ignores known repeat infringers and known infringements, refusing to take simple steps that are available to Twitter to stop these specific instances of infringement of which it is aware.”

The 17 publishers suing Twitter are ABKCO Music, Anthem Entertainment, Big Machine Music, BMG Rights Management, Concord, Hipgnosis, Kobalt, Mayimba, Peer, Reservoir Media Management, Sony Music Publishing, Spirit Music Group, the Royalty Network, Ultra Music Publishing, Universal Music Group Publishing, Warner Chappell and Wixen.

In response to questions about the lawsuit, Twitter’s press department sent an auto-reply of the poop emoji.

Twitter has long drawn the ire of music publishers, even before Musk purchased the site in October 2022. In a 2020 hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee, the Recording Industry Association of America accused Twitter of taking no action to stop “industrial scale piracy” on its website.

According to The New York Times, Twitter had recently considered licensing music from the three major labels but talks fell through after Musk assumed control of the company.


© 2023 Los Angeles Times

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.