Universal Music Sues MySpace
The suit charges that MySpace doesn't adequately police users from posting Universal-owned clips. "The foundation of MySpace is its so-called 'user-generated content.' However, much of that content is not 'user-generated' at all," alleges the music label, which counts U2, Fergie, The Killers, and Kanye West among its artists. "Rather, it is the 'user-stolen' intellectual property of others, and MySpace is a willing partner in that theft."
In its complaint, filed in federal district court in California, Universal alleges that MySpace enables copyright infringement by making available tools that allow users to upload and view videos as well as to distribute them by sending links to friends. "MySpace encourages this rampant infringement so that it can drive more traffic to MySpace.com, thereby increasing defendants' advertising revenue and profits at plaintiffs' expense," charges the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also charges that MySpace turns a blind eye to phony profiles that "hijack the names of famous artists." For instance, the lawsuit alleges that members have created profiles under the names "youtwo" and "Fergiee," and then offered free downloads of U2 and Fergie's music.
The suit comes just four weeks after Universal filed a similar complaint against video-sharing sites Grouper and Bolt.
The sites argue that they remove all copyrighted content as soon as the owners complain, as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act requires. Some legal experts hold that the statute protects Web hosts from lawsuits as long as they promptly remove copyrighted material upon notification.
But some music labels argue that no sooner do sites like MySpace take down copyrighted clips than they resurface because other users have posted them again. The owners argue that the law doesn't require them to repeatedly demand removal of the same clips.
MySpace had apparently attempted to forestall this lawsuit by recently adding new policing mechanisms to its site. Late last month, the site began using music database company Gracenote to screen music files for copyright violations.