- 16 Jun 23
Twitter has recently come under fire for alleged large-scale copyright infringement of musicians. The lawsuit filed in Tennessee Federal court alleges that over 1,700 works were used by the platform without proper permission, and that the platform ignored or delayed take-down notices.
The lawsuit, seeking 250 million dollars in damages, was filed by the National Music Publishers Association on behalf of the big three music publishers, Sony, Warner and Universal, as well as 14 smaller publishers.
The complaint accuses Twitter of "willful copyright infringement," and elaborates, "While numerous Twitter competitors recognize the need for proper licenses and agreements for the use ‘of musical compositions on their platforms, Twitter does not, and instead breeds massive copyright infringement that harms music creators."
Twitter has reportedly received hundreds of thousands of take-down notices from various publishers.
According to the complaint, "Twitter has rebuffed calls for it to obtain the licenses or other agreements needed for musical compositions to be lawfully used on its platform."
NMPA President David Israelite added in a statement on Wednesday that Twitter “stands alone as the largest social media platform that has completely refused to license the millions of songs on its service.”
The complaint focuses on how Twitter has shifted from a text-only platform to a platform containing many types of media like audio, video and GIFs.
The plaintiffs allege that Twitter has pivoted away from its text-only format in an attempt to draw in more advertising revenue.
"Audiovisual tweets, and especially ones containing Publishers' copyrighted works, attract and retain users to the Twitter platform, drive ad impressions, and advance Twitter's key metrics and economic interests," the filing reads.
The lawsuit claims Twitter's unauthorized use of content is harmful not only to the specific publishers and artists named, but the music industry as a whole.
“Twitter’s unlawful conduct has caused and continues to cause substantial and irreparable harm to Publishers, their songwriter clients, and the entire music ecosystem," it says.
Johnny Lappin of the Music Publishers Association of Ireland said in a statement, "MPAI welcomes the statement by the NMPA to ensure that creators and rightsholders are properly compensated for their work.”
Since Space-X entrepreneur Elon Musk bought Twitter in October 2022, the company has been plagued by problems including staff turnover, technical glitches, changing guidelines, and controversy over the new Twitter Blue verification system.
This lawsuit is the latest in a string of high-profile lawsuits and other legal actions against the company concerning matters from alleged wrongful termination in both the U.S and the U.K, to alleged breach of contract over non-payment of rent and janitorial services.