Bad Bunny Sues Madrid-Based Fan Over Concert Recording ‘Bootlegs,’ Alleging Copyright Infringement and More

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bad bunny lawsuit
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A live performance from Bad Bunny, who’s filed a lawsuit centering on allegedly infringing concert recordings. Photo Credit: Jorge Rojas

In a move that may make fans think twice about posting concert recordings, Bad Bunny is suing a Madrid-based supporter for allegedly capturing and uploading Most Wanted Tour performance footage.

Puerto Rico-born Bad Bunny just recently submitted the to-the-point complaint to a California federal court, naming as a defendant one Eric Guillermo Madronal Garrone. According to the firmly worded action, Garrone attended and filmed a February 21st Bad Bunny show in Salt Lake City; the latter kicked off the 30-year-old artist’s Most Wanted Tour, which has dates scheduled into late May.

Allegedly the (now-former) operator of a YouTube channel called MADforliveMUSIC, Garrone uploaded the videos in question to the platform, Bad Bunny and his counsel explained. The involved songs included but weren’t limited to “La Santa,” “Me Porto Bonito,” and “No Me Quiero Casar,” per the suit.

(At the time of this writing, each of the involved videos had been removed from YouTube. Furthermore, the channel itself, created in 2012, active since 2016, and boasting 33,000 subscribers by the defendant’s count, was also unavailable.)

Described by the plaintiff as “direct recordings without any transformative nature or purpose” – meaning that they didn’t qualify as fair use – the uploads were targeted by Bad Bunny reps via Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notices.

YouTube then pulled the alleged “unauthorized bootlegs,” Garrone contested the DMCA notices, and, after that, the Google subsidiary told Bad Bunny’s team it would reenable the clips by March 8th “unless a lawsuit was filed seeking injunctive relief preventing Garrone’s continued infringements,” according to the text.

Of course, a lawsuit was, in fact, filed. All told, Bad Bunny is seeking relief for alleged copyright infringement, violations of an anti-bootlegging statute, and unfair competition as well as false endorsement (concerning the Bad Bunny trademark),

Once again at the time of this writing, the defendant didn’t appear to have addressed the complaint on social media platforms including Instagram, where a MADforliveMUSIC account was live and featured a clip from the relevant Bad Bunny show in Salt Lake City.

But a translation of the defendant’s Spanish-language response to the initial DMCA notices provides a bit of potentially useful context.

“The cited videos are collectively 100% original content and my own creation,” the relevant follow-up reads in part, “thus not constituting infringement or violation regarding the use of third-party content. … Our activity is also protected by the Constitution of our nation, Spain, specifically in Article 20.2, which expressly states: ‘the exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, artistic creation, and information cannot be restricted by any form of prior censorship.’”

Needless to say, the defendant is far from the only individual who’s allegedly uploaded concert footage to YouTube. One doesn’t have to look very hard to find videos, seemingly monetized by Taylor Swift’s team, of full Eras Tour stops. As to the possible marketing advantages of concert clips, Bad Bunny (and presumably his own team) maintained that the uploads were only diverting traffic from the act’s main channel.

Consequently, it remains to be seen whether Bad Bunny’s hardball approach is indicative of a broader strategic pivot that could conceivably affect all manner of others who attend his commercially successful performances. More immediately, the move will at the very least cause uploaders to have second thoughts when disputing takedown notices.