The National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) is suing Twitter on behalf of 17 music publishers representing the biggest artists in the industry. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Tennessee, alleges that the company “provides its business with countless infringing copies of musical compositions, which violate the exclusive rights of publishers and others under copyright law.”[ads1];
It also lists the 1,700 or so songs (including below) that the publishers say have been included in multiple copyright notices to Twitter without the company doing anything about it, and is asking the court to fine Twitter up to $150,000 for each violation.
The problem predated Musk’s purchase of Twitter for $44 billion last year. The New York Times citing unnamed employees as saying that Twitter had cut a music licensing deal because of how much it would cost, which it said could amount to more than $100 million a year – Times also reported in March that licensing agreements between three major brands and Twitter stopped after Musk’s takeover last fall.
Of course, Musk’s tweets — and his enhanced Twitter Blue package with the ability to upload longer videos — also came up in the lawsuit. It doesn’t mention the flood of movies uploaded to Twitter in recent months, which are copies of The Super Mario Bros. Movie and Avatar: The Way of the Water which lasted for hours before it was taken down. Instead, it cites some of Musk’s tweets as examples.
One user complained that their account could be suspended after five copyright notices, which Musk said he was “investigating” and the council they should “consider turning on subscriptions,” which, according to the suit, encouraged them to pay Twitter to hide the offending material so it could not be flagged. IN another tweet, Elon Musk said the “overzealous DMCA is a plague on humanity.” It was not included in the lawsuit, but in March Musk was too tweeted that “Accounts that engage in repeated, egregious violations of the DMCA on Twitter or encourage violations of the DMCA will receive temporary suspensions”, while asserting that “reasonable media removal requests are of course appropriate and will always be supported.”
Most of the alleged infringement Twitter has been notified of is due to music videos, videos of live music performances or other videos synced to copyrighted music, and it accuses Twitter of using these videos to increase value by increasing the time people spend on its site. The NMPA alleges that Twitter has failed to remove infringing content when first notified and has “continued to assist known repeat infringers with their infringement” without risking them losing their accounts.
After Musk announced that a new Twitter CEO would be chosen soon, NMPA President David Israelite tweeted to Musk that their first order of business should be to “address the massive amount of unlicensed music on the platform,” after a similar tweet last spring.
Twitter did not respond to requests for comment on the lawsuit, and since it was filed, Musk has tweeted about Tucker Carlson and crime in San Francisco, while new CEO Linda Yaccarino has not tweeted since releasing the contents of her first letter to company employees .