//Twitter Hit With $250 Million Lawsuit Over Alleged Music Copyright Violations

Twitter Hit With $250 Million Lawsuit Over Alleged Music Copyright Violations

Katy Perry holding Twitter placard

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Twitter has been slapped with a lawsuit seeking roughly $250 million over its alleged “willful copyright infringement” involving unlicensed music used in content shared on the platform. The lawsuit has been filed by the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) on behalf of 17 music studios, a list that includes giants like the Universal Music Group and the Warner Bros. conglomerate.

The legal challenge, filed before a district court in Tennessee, claims that “Twitter fuels its business with countless infringing copies of musical compositions, violating Publishers’ and others’ exclusive rights under copyright law.” Twitter still lacks licensing agreements with music labels, unlike Instagram or TikTok. That means every single piece of multimedia content uploaded on Twitter featuring songs owned by one of the 17 music labels represents a copyright violation.

It was reported in March that Twitter’s talks with at least three major music labels over content licensing fell apart, leaving the doors open for an ugly legal battle over copyright. The lawsuit claims that copyright infringement happened before Musk’s acquisition and that it continues under his leadership, but that in the present day, “Twitter’s internal affairs regarding matters pertinent to this case are in disarray.” 

Twitter battles music titans while wooing creators

Twitter owner Elon Musk

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In the lawsuit, the National Music Publishers Association seeks damages worth $150,000 for each alleged copyright infringement covering around 1,700 songs. The allegations are strong, including the claim that “Twitter knows perfectly well that neither it nor users of the Twitter platform have secured licenses for the rampant use of music being made on its platform.” In addition to demanding roughly $250 million in damages, the lawsuit also asks the court to make Twitter cease its copyright-infringing activities with immediate effect. 

Notably, the NMPA claims that it has been sending formal notices about copyright infringement to Twitter since 2021, totaling over 300,000 tweets that violated copyright laws. Twitter is also said to have received hundreds of thousands of notices from other copyright holders, but the company allegedly “routinely ignores known repeat infringers and known infringements,” according to the lawsuit.

Twitter is accused of failing to remove the contentious content or end public access to it. “Twitter views itself, not the law, as the arbiter of what content is permitted on the Twitter platform,” the lawsuit claims. Neither Twitter nor its new CEO Linda Yaccarino has issued a statement on the matter at the time of writing. The lawsuit is a major blow to Twitter, which has undergone drastic cost-cutting measures – including laying off two-thirds of its workforce — on its road to becoming a cash-positive company. More importantly, it sets a terrible precedent for Musk’s dream of turning Twitter into a haven for creators.