Music publishers seek more than $250 million from Twitter for alleged copyright violations. Credit: Guillaume Payen/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
In the latest case against Twitter announced on Wednesday, a group of 17 music publishers have filed a lawsuit(opens in a new tab) against the company alleging rampant copyright infringement on the social network. According to the publishers, Musk’s company allows users to share music on the platform without permission from the copyright holders.
The companies that are suing Twitter range from major music publishers to smaller indie publishers. The list of more than a dozen music publishers includes Universal Music Publishing Group, Sony Music Publishing, BMG Rights Management, The Royalty Network, Anthem Entertainment, and Concord.
The music publishers are seeking more than $250 million in damages, alleging thousands of works have been infringed upon in hundreds of thousands of instances on Twitter. The alleged copyright infringements go back from before Musk acquired the company in October of last year.
In their lawsuit, the publishers point out that pretty much every other major social media platform has worked with music publishers. The lawsuit specifically names TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat as platforms that they have entered licensing deals with.
Twitter may not be a convenient music streaming service on its own, but the plaintiffs take issue with Twitter videos being soundtracked with copyrighted music — something from which TikTok, for instance, draws substantial revenue(opens in a new tab). In another example of an alleged violation, the suit points out a Twitter user who uploaded Billie Eilish’s “You Should See Me in a Crown” music video, using a screenshot to note that the video is surrounded by ads.
Twitter was initially in talks with music publishers to work out an agreement. However, those talks stalled in March(opens in a new tab) of this year with those familiar with the situation saying Musk’s Twitter balked at the costs.
As the New York Times points out(opens in a new tab), the lawsuit uses Musk’s own tweets against him as it references posts(opens in a new tab) from Twitter’s owner criticizing copyright law as well as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
“Twitter stands alone as the largest social media platform that has completely refused to license the millions of songs on its service,” said the National Music Publishers’ Association trade group president David Israelite in a statement. “Twitter knows full well that music is leaked, launched, and streamed by billions of people every day on its platform. No longer can it hide behind the DMCA and refuse to pay songwriters and music publishers.”
The filing, as obtained by music industry outlet Music Business Worldwide(opens in a new tab), can be viewed in full here(opens in a new tab). The suit was filed in Federal District Court in Nashville.
These music publishers join the growing list of individuals and companies suing Twitter. A group of former Twitter employees filed(opens in a new tab) suit against the company last month for breach of contract. Numerous landlords ranging(opens in a new tab) from building owners in San Francisco to London, England have also sued Musk’s company over unpaid rent. On the same day the music publishers filed their suit, a Boulder, Colorado landlord was also given permission(opens in a new tab) by a judge to evict Twitter from an office space it had not been paying rent on.