UMG: MySpace 'partner' in theft


Universal Music Group and its publishing companies have sued MySpace and its parent company News Corp., alleging that the wildly popular site facilitates and encourages "rampant" infringement of thousands of UMG's copyrights (HR 11/21).

The action, filed Friday in federal court in Los Angeles, seeks maximum statutory damages of $150,000 for each copyrighted work infringed either directly or indirectly and an injunction barring further infringing acts.

Said UMG in its suit: "The foundation of MySpace is its so-called 'user-generated content.' However, much of that content is not 'user-generated' at all. Rather, it is the 'user-stolen' intellectual property of others, and MySpace is a willing partner in that theft."

The suit cites U2, 50 Cent, the Black Eyed Peas, Mariah Carey, the Killers, No Doubt, Kanye West and Prince among dozens of acts whose recordings or compositions have allegedly been pirated on the site, which is described in the complaint as "a vast virtual warehouse for pirated copies of music videos and songs."

The UMG suit against MySpace was filed almost simultaneously with an announcement from the site that it planned to launch a tool that will make it easier and faster for copyright holders to remove content they allege is unauthorized.

The tool — currently being tested with Fox and MLB Advanced Media — will allow copyright holders to digitally flag any user-posted video containing content that they own and allege is unauthorized. MySpace would then remove any of the flagged videos.