Major Music Publishers Hit Back at Twitter’s Move to Dismiss Infringement Lawsuit

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Music Publishers Twitter lawsuit

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Photo Credit: Uladzislau Petrushkevich

Major music publishers are pushing back on Elon Musk’s Twitter, insisting that the company is liable for the copyright infringement taking place on its platform, despite its efforts to dismiss their lawsuit.

A group of major music publishers, including Universal Music, Sony Music, and EMI, argue that Elon Musk’s Twitter (now X) is liable for the rampant music infringement that takes place on its platform — no matter how much the social media platform tries to ignore it. With $250 million in damages on the line and ample evidence to support their claims, the companies argue the legal battle against Twitter should continue and the court should deny the social media company’s request for dismissal.

The companies filed their initial complaint at a Nashville federal court earlier this year, arguing that Elon Musk’s Twitter is a breeding ground for mass copyright infringement. Their filing states that X Corp, Musk’s company behind the current Twitter platform, has not properly responded to takedown notices and lacks an adequate policy for addressing and disabling the accounts of repeat offenders.

As a result, music piracy is rampant on Musk’s Twitter, with users uploading videos using infringing music, generating views which the social media platform monetizes, leaving rights holders uncompensated for the use of their work. But X Corp. disagrees with that assessment, moving to dismiss the lawsuit a few weeks ago and refuting all allegations of piracy.

“The motion to dismiss filed by Defendant X Corp. should fail in its entirety,” the music companies write in their rebuttal. “The law does not endorse X’s sweeping contention that it is entitled to stream copyrighted works with immunity from direct infringement liability,” they continue. “But even if this Court were to find X’s ‘volitional’ conduct is required, the facts alleged in the Complaint are more than ample.”

The music companies cite Twitter’s implemented feature that supports music streaming, encouraging users to upload content directly to the platform. X Corp’s alleged failure to address and remove infringing content and the subsequent uploads of repeat offenders, they argue, could be viewed as direct infringements of public performance rights.

While Musk’s lawyers argued that the music companies failed to prove that X took “active and intentional” steps to encourage infringement, the music publishers point out that intent is not a requirement under US copyright law, that material contribution to copyright infringement suffices to state a claim. Because of the prevalence of advertising on the platform and ads shown next to copyright infringing content, the companies argue that this suggests that more infringements lead to more advertising revenue, enabling X Corp. to profit.

“The causal relationship between the infringement of Plaintiffs’ works and X’s profits could not be more direct. When X runs ads in connection with infringing video content, money flows into its pockets,” the music companies write.

It remains clear that the music publishing companies won’t stop fighting, regardless of X Corp’s denial of responsibility. The District Court in Nashville will determine if the case will proceed.