A music publisher’s coalition that includes big names like Universal Music Corp., BMG, Warner Chapell and Sony Music Publishing is suing Twitter for copyright infringement.
The National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), representing 17 publishers, listed 1,700 songs for which it sent multiple copyright violation notices to the social network. The lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court in Nashville, says that Twitter didn’t take any action against these notices. The publishers’ organization said in the filing that it is seeking fines of up to $150,000 for each violation.
The lawsuit alleged that the social network “fuels its business with countless infringing copies of musical ‘compositions, violating Publishers’ and others’ exclusive rights under copyright law.” It added that, unlike its competitors TikTok and Instagram, Twitter hasn’t struck a music licensing deal for the use of copyrighted music.
In March, The New York Times reported that Elon Musk’s management talks about signing a music licensing deal were stalled. Musk has been in cost-cutting mode since taking over the company, and the NYT report cites that such agreements could cost $100 million a year for established platforms.
The plaintiffs said that Twitter has become a “hot destination” for multimedia content with many users uploading videos with licensed music. The lawsuit also mentioned that Musk has allowed paid users to upload two-hour-long videos. There have been plenty of instances where users have uploaded full copyrighted movies on the platform. Additionally, the document refers to Twitter’s own marketing material describing the benefits of videos in terms of higher engagement.
The lawsuit also quoted a Musk tweet from last year where he refers to DMCA as a “plague on humanity.”
“Twitter stands alone as the largest social media platform that has completely refused to license the millions of songs on its service,” David Israelite, the president of the National Music Publishers’ Association, a trade group, said in a statement given to LA Times.
“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.”
Last month, when Musk announced NBCU’s Linda Yaccarino as the new CEO, Israelite tweeted that the first order of business for the new CEO should be to address the problem of unlicensed music on the platform.