Music Publishers Just Scored a Huge Victory Over Wolfgang’s Vault

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Wolfgang’s Vault loses a case filed by the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA).

After nearly three years of litigation, the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) has finally scored a victory against Wolfgang’s Vault for copyright violations.

Established in 2003, Wolfang’s Vault’s initial collection came from the archives of famed concert promoter Bill Graham.  Its collection grew to more than a hundred performers and thousands of performances.  The Wall Street Journal once called Wolfgang’s Vault’s collection of thousands of live concert performances, “the most important collection of rock memorabilia and recordings ever assembled.”

NMPA members Sony/ATV and EMI Music Publishing, Warner/Chappell, ABKCO, Peermusic, Spirit Music, and Imagem Music filed a case against Wolfgang’s Vault.  According to the NMPA, Wolfang’s Vault “lack[ed] the requisite licenses to stream a collection of works that were acquired from Bill Graham and operators of other concert venues.”

About 200 musical compositions were primarily at issue in the case.

Last Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Edgardo Ramos concluded that Wolfgang’s Vault lacked the proper licenses to stream hundreds of iconic songs.

Ramos found that Wolfgang’s had infringed all of the copyrighted works at issue.  The result is a critical win for major publishers.

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Following the victory, NMPA President & CEO David Israelite released a statement as follows:

“Judge Ramos’ opinion is a dramatic vindication for our members Sony/ATV & EMI Music Publishing, Warner/Chappell, ABKCO, peermusic, Spirit Music, and Imagem Music whose works have been willfully infringed by Wolfgang’s Vault for years. NMPA is pleased to fully support its members in bringing their case and we look forward to the next phase where damages will be determined.”

“We wholeheartedly encourage fans being able to access the footage they want to watch; however, the provider of that footage must obtain proper licenses and pay those who created and own it. We will continue to support this effort to ensure that copyright holders and songwriters rights are upheld.”

The next step will be to assess Wolfgang’s Vault’s monetary liabilities.  Under the U.S. Copyright Act, each infringement in the action can cost to up to $150,000.  That’s rarely awarded per violation, though it’s a dramatically expensive starting point.



3 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    Man, that looks like a messy lawsuit. I’m glad the publishers won. I’ve never heard of Wolfgang’s Vault before, but it sounds like an interesting collection. Hopefully some of it can continue to be made available with the proper licensing in place. Maybe not through that website, but perhaps it will find a good home.

  2. Michael Jay

    And again, DMN gets it wrong:

    “Under the U.S. Copyright Act, each infringement in the action can cost to up to $150,000. That’s rarely awarded per violation, though it’s a dramatically expensive starting point.”


    It’s $150k per WORK INFRINGED. That is REGARDLESS of how many infringements of any individual work occurred. It’s not $150k for “each Iinfringment” pr “per violation.”