The National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) is suing Twitter on behalf of 17 music publishers representing the industry’s biggest artists. The court casefiled in federal court in Tennessee, alleges that the company “feeds its business with numerous infringing copies of musical compositions, violating the exclusive rights of publishers and others under copyright law.”
It also has a list of about 1,700 songs (included below) which the publishers say was included in multiple copyright notices to Twitter without the company doing anything about it, asking the court to fine Twitter up to $150,000 for each violation.
The matter predates Musk’s $44 billion acquisition of Twitter last year. The New York Times cites unnamed employees who say Twitter has entered into a music licensing deal because of its high costs, which it says could amount to more than $100 million a year – the Time also reported in March that licensing deals between three major labels and Twitter stalled after Musk’s acquisition last fall.
Of course, Musk’s tweets – and his enhanced Twitter Blue package with the ability to upload longer videos – also came up in the lawsuit. No mention is made of the deluge of movies uploaded to Twitter in recent months, such as copies of The Super Mario Bros. movie And Avatar: the way of the water that lasted for hours before they were brought down. Instead, it cites some of Musk’s tweets as examples.
One user complained that his account could be suspended after five copyright notices, which Musk said he was “looking into”, and advised they should “consider turning on subscriptions,” which, according to the lawsuit, encouraged them to pay Twitter to hide the infringing material so it couldn’t be flagged. In another tweet, Elon Musk said the “overzealous DMCA is a blight on humanity”. It was not included in the lawsuit, but so was Musk in March tweeted that “Accounts that engage in repeated, egregious weaponization of DMCA on Twitter or encourage weaponization of DMCA will receive temporary suspensions,” while claiming that “reasonable media takedown requests are, of course, appropriate and will always be supported.”
Most of the alleged infringement that Twitter has been made aware of is due to music videos, live music performance videos, or other videos synced to copyrighted music, and it accuses Twitter of using those videos to increase its value by increasing the amount of time people spend on its site. The NMPA claims that Twitter did not remove any infringing content after being notified and has “continued to assist known repeat offenders in their infringement” without risking losing their accounts.
After Musk announced that a new Twitter CEO would be selected soon, NMPA President David Israelite tweeted to Musk that their first order of business should be to “address the massive amount of unlicensed music on the platform.” a similar tweet last spring.
Twitter has not responded to requests for comment on the lawsuit, and since the indictment Musk has tweeted about Tucker Carlson and crime in San Francisco, while new CEO Linda Yaccarino has not tweeted since she posted the contents of her first letter to the company . staff.