Music Publishers Representing Taylor Swift, Beyoncé Vs. Elon Musk’s Twitter: “Rampant Copyright Infringement”

A group of music publishers, representing iconic artists like Taylor Swift and Beyoncé, has launched a lawsuit against Elon Musk’s Twitter, claiming that the social media giant has been profiting from copyright infringement by allowing users to post videos containing unauthorized music without compensating the creators.

With an estimated $250 million in damages sought for over 1,700 songs and countless infringements, this lawsuit marks the first major confrontation between the music industry’s heavyweights and the influential social media platform.

Unlike other social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok, which have established licensing agreements to remunerate artists when their music is used, Twitter stands alone as the largest platform refusing to do so, the lawsuit alleges.

“Twitter stands alone as the largest social media platform that has completely refused to license the millions of songs on its service,” said NMPA Chief Executive David Israelite. “Twitter breeds massive copyright infringement that harms music creators.”

The lawsuit, filed by the NMPA on behalf of 17 music publishers, features an impressive roster of artists, including Lady Gaga, Rihanna, the Rolling Stones, and Miranda Lambert.

Despite Twitter’s previous statements opposing copyright infringement and its supposed investment in content protection tools, the lawsuit argues that the platform has facilitated and profited from unauthorized music use both before and after Musk’s acquisition of the company for $44 billion.

Twitter’s evolution into a multimedia destination has amplified the problem, with music-infused videos becoming central to its appeal. The NMPA accuses Twitter of disregarding the necessity for licensing agreements and being unresponsive to rights holders’ requests to remove infringing content.

Music rights holders have increasingly turned to licensing agreements with online platforms to expand their revenue streams beyond streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music. Notably, the NMPA filed a similar lawsuit against Peloton in 2019, resulting in a settlement and a new licensing agreement. However, with Musk’s reputation for tenacious legal battles, settling might not be an option. In a tweet from 2022, Musk vowed never to surrender to unjust cases against him or his companies.

Earlier this month, the head of trust and safety at Twitter announced her departure from the company without disclosing the specific reasons behind her decision. This executive became the second head of trust and safety to resign from Twitter following the acquisition of the platform by the unconventional billionaire Musk, who implemented a reduction in content moderation.

Since assuming control of Twitter, Musk has consistently sparked controversy by terminating a significant portion of its workforce and reinstating previously banned accounts.

“Twitter refuses to stop the rampant infringement of copyrighted music… because it knows that the Twitter platform is more popular and profitable if Twitter allows such infringement,” the lawsuit said.

This legal dispute adds to the challenges faced by Twitter’s newly appointed CEO, Linda Yaccarino, as she endeavors to stabilize the company’s advertising business. As the lawsuit unfolds, the outcome could have far-reaching consequences for both the music industry and social media platforms, potentially transforming how copyrighted music is used and compensated in the digital age.

Information for this story was found via The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo News, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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