Copyright Infringement

Court Tosses Much of X Copyright Lawsuit but Parts Remain

U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger has allowed a copyright infringement lawsuit against X (formerly Twitter), brought by the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), to proceed, after dismissing some of their claims. The judge ruled that the primary question is whether and to what extent the social media platform is liable for acts of copyright infringement committed by its users.

Special Treatment for Verified Users?

While the judge dismissed two of the publishers’ infringement claims and found a third claim of contributory infringement unproven, she highlighted concerning allegations. Especially striking was the claim that X enforces its copyright policies less rigorously against users of its verified service, potentially allowing them to buy the right to infringe with fewer consequences.

X’s Possible Copyright Infringement Liability

If this is true, it suggests that X promotes its paid services as a way that users can more freely engage in copyright infringement. Juge Trauger notes that if a certain class of users (paid subscribers) were openly using the social media platform as an infringement tool and X failed to act against repeat infringers, leading to ongoing infringement, the company could be held contributorily liable. Any substantial delays or ignoring valid takedown notices would also support the argument for liability.

Copyright Lawsuit by NMPA Seeks $250 Million in Damages

The lawsuit, organized last year by the National Music Publishers’ Association on behalf of Universal Music Group, Sony Music Publishing, Warner Chappell Music, and Concord Music Group, seeks $250 million in damages for alleged infringement of songs by major artists. An NMPA spokesperson expressed satisfaction with the ruling, citing the widespread music piracy on the X platform and a desire to secure compensation for songwriters and publishers.

This ruling by Judge Aleta Trauger allows the copyright infringement lawsuit against X by NMPA to proceed, in its altered form.

Axios – Rebecca Falconer – March 5, 2024

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