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A massive $250 million lawsuit is being filed against Twitter by Music publishers alleging huge copyright infringement.

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NMPA
NMPA

Negotiations for a licensing agreement with music labels believed to hit a roadblock after Elon Musk assumed control of the company.

The National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) has taken legal action against Twitter on behalf of 17 prominent music publishers, representing some of the biggest names in the industry. The lawsuit, which has been filed in a federal court in Tennessee, alleges that Twitter’s operations heavily rely on numerous unauthorized copies of musical compositions, thus violating the exclusive rights of publishers and other copyright holders.

Moreover, the NMPA has compiled a comprehensive list of almost 1,700 songs that have been identified in multiple copyright infringement notices sent to Twitter, without the company taking appropriate action to address the issue. As a result, the NMPA is seeking judicial intervention to impose fines on Twitter, potentially amounting to $150,000 for each violation.

It is worth noting that this legal matter predates Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter for $44 billion last year. According to undisclosed sources cited by The New York Times, Twitter had previously attempted to negotiate a music licensing agreement, but concerns regarding the substantial financial implications—potentially exceeding $100 million annually—led to difficulties in reaching a resolution. Furthermore, the Times reported in March that the acquisition by Musk last fall further complicated the ongoing licensing negotiations between Twitter and three major music labels, resulting in a stall.

Twitter alleged for evasion.

Naturally, the lawsuit scrutinized Musk’s tweets, as well as his recently introduced Twitter Blue package, offering extended video upload capabilities. However, the focus of the lawsuit did not revolve around the influx of movies uploaded to Twitter over the past few months, including unauthorized copies of The Super Mario Bros. Movie and Avatar: The Way of Water, which remained on the platform for prolonged periods before being removed. Instead, the lawsuit presented specific examples from Musk’s tweets.

One user expressed concern about the possibility of having their account suspended after receiving five copyright notices. In response, Musk stated that he was “investigating the matter” and suggested that the user should “consider activating subscriptions.” The lawsuit alleges that this advice implied users could pay Twitter to conceal infringing content, thus evading detection. In another tweet, Elon Musk condemned the “excessive DMCA enforcement,” referring to it as a “plague on humanity.” Although this particular tweet was not mentioned in the lawsuit, it is worth noting that in March, Musk announced that Twitter would impose temporary suspensions on accounts repeatedly exploiting the DMCA or encouraging its misuse, while assuring that valid takedown requests would always receive support.

Twitter has a history of infringement claims

Twitter has been notified of numerous alleged copyright infringements, primarily related to music videos, live music performances, and videos synchronized with copyrighted music. The National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) asserts that Twitter utilizes these videos to augment its platform’s value by prolonging user engagement. According to the NMPA, Twitter has been remiss in removing infringing content upon receiving notifications and has even assisted known repeat infringers without imposing any repercussions, thereby safeguarding their accounts from suspension or termination.

In contrast, many other prominent social networking platforms have proactively negotiated agreements with music publishers and labels. Among the platforms mentioned in the lawsuit, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat have successfully reached such arrangements. Notably, a brief but contentious dispute unfolded between Amazon-owned Twitch and the music industry in late 2020. However, Twitch subsequently declared its intent to collaborate with the NMPA, with an agreement slated for completion by September 2021. Recently, additional companies that have chosen to settle with the NMPA regarding music copyright concerns include Roblox and Peloton.

David Israelite, the president of NMPA, contacted Elon Musk via Twitter after learning about the impending announcement of a new Twitter CEO, emphasising the urgent need to address the pervasive presence of unauthorised music on the platform. This tweet was a reiteration of Israelite’s same statement from the previous spring.

Even though Twitter has been sued, the corporation has decided not to comment when contacted. In the meantime, Musk has been participating in Twitter conversations about things like Tucker Carlson and crime in San Francisco. However, since tweeting the contents of her original message to the company’s employees, Linda Yaccarino, the newly appointed CEO, has stopped.





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