The trade group the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) has sued Twitter for $250 million for copyright infringement on behalf of several music publishers.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Nashville and represents a total of 17 music publishing companies including Universal, Sony, Warner Chappell, BMG, Polygram, Concord, EMI and more. The suit alleges that Twitter has willfully infringed on the work of about 1,700 songs. It seeks damages of $150,000 for each case of infringement and additional damages for direct copyright infringement, contributory infringement and vicarious infringement. It also requests a trial by jury.
“Twitter fuels its business with countless infringing copies of musical compositions, violating Publishers’ and others’ exclusive rights under copyright law,” the suit reads. “While numerous Twitter competitors recognize the need for proper licenses and agreements for the use of musical compositions on their platforms, Twitter does not, and instead breeds massive copyright infringement that harms music creators.”
Among the complaints included in the lawsuit is the chaos at Twitter after Elon Musk’s takeover. At least two executives leading Twitter’s Trust and Safety division are no longer with the company, leaving Twitter effectively unmoderated.
“Videos with music, including infringing copies of publishers’ songs, attract and retain account holders and viewers, and grow the body of engaging tweets on the Twitter platform,” the suit continues. “Twitter then monetizes and uses those tweets and users via advertising, subscriptions, and data licensing, all of which serve to increase Twitter’s valuation and revenues.”
The NMPA also says it began sending Twitter formal infringement notices—which Twitter has ignored. These notices began on a weekly basis in December 2021 and the lawsuit alleges that 300,000 infringing tweets have been identified since then.
“Twitter’s policies and its response to the NMPA Notices make clear that Twitter does not take its legal obligations with respect to copyright infringement seriously. Twitter has not adopted, reasonably implemented, nor informed subscribers or account holders of a policy to terminate users engaging in repeated acts of copyright infringement.”
This isn’t the first time the NMPA has sprung to action against a tech platform for music publishers. It successfully sued exercise subscription platform Peloton, settling with the company in 2020.