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Universal Music Files Lawsuit Against MySpace

17 Nov, 2006 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Universal Music Group has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against MySpace.com, alleging the popular community site “encourages, facilitates and participates” in the unlawful repurposing of its copyrighted music and related videos.

UMG seeks unspecified damages and restitution but says federal law allows for up to $150,000 in statutory damages per infringed recording or video.

UMG in October filed similar suits against community file-sharing sites Grouper Networks and Bolt Inc.

The suit — filed Nov. 17 in U.S. District Court in L.A. — claims MySpace supports “rampant” infringement so that it can drive more traffic to the site and thereby increase its advertising revenue potential at UMG's expense.

The complaint seeks a permanent injunction halting MySpace from allowing users to repurpose, watch, listen to, edit, e-mail or post logos of thousands of UMG copyrighted artists, including U2, 50 Cent, Black Eyed Peas and Kanye West, without proper license.

For example, the complaint alleges users can simply type in the group U2 in the search box and have instant access to “scores” of user-generated music videos from the group's popular “Beautiful Day” video.

MySpace was acquired for $580 million in 2005 by media giant News Corp., parent of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

“Businesses that seek to trade off on our content, and the hard work of our artists and songwriters, shouldn't be free to do so without permission and without fairly compensating the content creators,” said UMG spokesman Peter Lofrumento. “Our music and videos play a key role in building the communities that have created hundreds of millions of dollars of value for the owners of MySpace. Our goal is not to inhibit the creation of these communities, but to ensure that our rights and those of our artists are recognized.”

A News Corp. representative was not immediately available for comment.

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