SUISA Files Copyright Lawsuit Against Twitter/X in German Court: ‘Resolute Action Against the Illegal Use of Music’

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suisa twitter lawsuit
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SUISA is suing Twitter/X for alleged copyright infringement. Photo Credit: Rubaitul Azad

In June, the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) filed a $250 million copyright infringement lawsuit against Twitter/X. Now, SUISA has submitted a copyright complaint of its own against the social media platform.

Zurich-based SUISA announced the action, levied specifically by SUISA Digital Licensing in the Munich I District Court, in a brief release. As described by the plaintiff entity’s century-old parent, the suit has arrived on the heels of “repeated attempts to license X for more than half a year.”

Said licensing attempts refer to “several emails,” only one of which received an “automated reply,” featuring “standard text which simply pointed to a contact form for rightsholders to notify copyright infringements,” per SUISA.

Repped in the case by Cologne law firm Lausen Rechtsanwälte, SUISA says “a considerable number” of its works remain available on Twitter/X despite the absence of a licensing pact. However, the society, which in April put to rest a copyright confrontation with Snap, also indicated that it’s unable to identify the precise extent of the alleged infringement (and, in turn, allegedly due damages).

“We have yet to calculate the exact amount [allegedly owed by Twitter/X over infringement],” SUISA relayed. “Unfortunately, we currently lack the necessary information. One of the demands of our lawsuit is therefore that Twitter International discloses X’s turnover and streaming figures in full and without any gaps. We will use these figures to calculate the actual amount of compensation owed.”

At the time of this writing, Twitter/X didn’t appear to have addressed SUISA’s complaint via its official blog, nor did Elon Musk seem to have touched upon the subject in a tweet. But SESAC president of international Alexander Wolf, whose PRO operates a joint venture called Mint Digital Services with SUISA, made clear in a statement that the organization “has our full backing.”

Meanwhile, there hasn’t been any noteworthy movement in the previously mentioned NMPA suit against Twitter/X since August, when the platform filed a dismissal motion.

Bigger picture, Twitter/X isn’t the sole social media service facing infringement allegations; Epidemic Sound sued Facebook and Instagram parent Meta in the summer of 2022, and the legal battle, which could head to trial next year, has been in full swing in the interim.

Yesterday, the royalty-free song-library plaintiff asked the court to strike two of Meta’s affirmative defenses, centering on copyright misuse and innocent/unknowing infringement. If accepted, the latter would substantially limit statutory damages for each infringed work.

Epidemic described the misuse claim as “legally misplaced and inapplicable” and expressed the opinion that the innocent infringement position “has no bearing whatsoever on Meta’s liability.”

Separately, Meta quietly resolved a Kobalt licensing showdown in September of 2022, and in March of 2023, a dispute between the tech giant and the Italian Society of Authors and Publishers entered the media spotlight.