In a significant legal battle that could have far-reaching implications, a group of 17 music publishers in the United States, represented by the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), has filed a lawsuit against Twitter.
The publishers allege that the social media platform has enabled copyright violations involving nearly 1,700 songs, and they are seeking over $250 million in damages. The case, filed at the Federal District Court in Nashville, accuses Twitter of knowingly permitting and encouraging infringement for profit.
Twitter’s Profitable Exploitation of Unlicensed Music
The NMPA claims that Twitter continues to profit immensely from the availability of unlicensed music on its platform without adequately compensating copyright holders.
This alleged misconduct gives Twitter an unfair advantage over its competitors, such as TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat, which pay for music licenses. NMPA President David Israelite emphasised that Twitter stands alone as the largest social media platform refusing to license millions of songs, highlighting the severity of the issue.
No Improvements Under Elon Musk’s Ownership
Contrary to expectations following Elon Musk‘s acquisition of Twitter in October 2022, the NMPA argues that the situation regarding copyright infringement has not improved.
The association states that Twitter’s internal affairs relevant to copyright matters are in disarray. The downsising of critical departments responsible for content review and the policing of terms of service violations, coupled with the resignations of trust and safety chiefs Yoel Roth and Ella Irwin, further support their claim.
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Allegations of Negligence and Repeat Offender Ignorance
The NMPA further alleges that Twitter routinely ignores known repeat infringers and known instances of infringement, compounding the damage caused to copyright holders. These claims highlight a systemic failure on Twitter’s part to address copyright issues adequately, potentially exacerbating the platform’s reputation as a hub for copyright infringement.
Change in Leadership and Twitter’s Financial Struggles
Recent changes in Twitter’s leadership have raised eyebrows. Linda Yaccarino, formerly the head of advertising at media giant NBCUniversal, took the helm at Twitter, overseeing its business operations. This move comes at a time when the social media platform has been grappling with financial challenges and struggling to monetise its services effectively.
Drastic Workforce Reductions and Verification Changes
Since Elon Musk’s acquisition, Twitter has undergone substantial restructuring efforts. The company has reportedly cut 75% of its workforce, including teams responsible for tracking abuse and enforcing content policies.
Additionally, changes have been made to the account verification process. These developments add to the concerns raised by the NMPA regarding Twitter’s ability to address copyright issues effectively.
The lawsuit brought forth by the National Music Publishers’ Association against Twitter represents a significant moment in the ongoing battle to protect intellectual property rights in the digital age.
As the case unfolds, the outcome could set a precedent for social media platforms’ responsibility in combating copyright infringement. Twitter, under the ownership of Elon Musk, faces a formidable legal challenge, with the music publishers seeking substantial damages and urging the court to hold the platform accountable for its alleged facilitation of copyright violations.