The trade group National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) has sued Twitter on behalf of several music publishers for $250 million for copyright infringement.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Nashville and represents a total of 17 music publishers, including Universal, Sony, Warner Chappell, BMG, Polygram, Concord, EMI and more. The lawsuit alleges that Twitter willfully violated work on approximately 1,700 songs. It seeks damages of US$150,000 for each infringement and additional damages for direct copyright infringement, contributory infringement, and vicarious agent. It also calls for a jury trial.
“Twitter fuels its business with countless infringing copies of musical compositions, thereby violating the exclusive rights of publishers and others under copyright law,” the lawsuit reads. “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 leads to massive copyright violations that harm music creators.”
Complaints included in the lawsuit include the chaos at Twitter following the Elon Musk acquisition. At least two executives who run Twitter’s trust and security department are no longer with the company, leaving Twitter virtually unmoderated.
“Videos featuring music, including infringing copies of publishers’ songs, attract and retain account holders and viewers and increase the number of engaging tweets on the Twitter platform,” the lawsuit continues. “Twitter then monetizes and leverages these tweets and users through advertising, subscriptions, and data licensing, all designed to increase Twitter’s value and revenue.”
The NMPA also says it has started sending out formal violations to Twitter – which Twitter has ignored. These disclosures began weekly in December 2021, and the lawsuit alleges that 300,000 infringing tweets have been identified since then.
“Twitter’s policies and its response to the NMPA notices make it clear that Twitter does not take seriously its legal obligations regarding copyright infringement. Twitter has not adopted, adequately implemented, or communicated any policy to subscribers or account holders to prevent users from repeatedly engaging in copyright infringement.”
This isn’t the first time the NMPA has cracked down on a technology platform for music publishers. The company successfully sued exercise subscription platform Peloton and settled with the company in 2020.