Universal Music Sues MySpace

Posted on November 18, 2006

The New York Times reports that the Universal Music Group has sued MySpace.com over copyrighted music videos. The Times said Universal's lawsuit filing notes that unauthorized U2 and Jay-Z music and music videos were easy to find on MySpace.com.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Los Angeles, is seen as part of a strategy by Universal to test provisions of a federal law that provides a "safe harbor" to Internet companies that follow certain procedures to filter out copyrighted works. The law requires sites to remove such content after being notified by the copyright holder.

If Universal can win in court, it is likely to gain leverage in negotiating licensing terms with user-driven services - just at the moment that those services are attracting deep-pocketed partners.

Earlier this year, Universal's chief executive, Doug Morris, publicly identified the YouTube video-sharing site and MySpace as copyright infringers. Universal successfully negotiated to take a stake in YouTube shortly before it was sold to Google for $1.65 billion, according to executives briefed on the deal who spoke on condition of anonymity. But licensing talks with MySpace recently reached an impasse.

MySpace said in a statement yesterday that it complied with the requirements of federal law. The company said it had kept Universal, a unit of Vivendi, "closely apprised of our industry-leading efforts to protect creators' rights, and it's unfortunate they decided to file this unnecessary and meritless litigation."

Music publishers are really starting to crack down on social networks and user generated content websites for copyright music content. The photography agencies are also starting to crack down on the illegal use of copyrighted photographs on blogs -- particular celebrity blogs. Currently, Perez Hilton appears to be the blogger the most under the gun from photography agencies.

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