A multitude of music companies have filed a $250 million lawsuit in Tennessee, taking Elon Musk's Twitter to task over what they allege is "rampant infringement of copyrighted music," while also arguing that the social media network "refuses" to do anything to stop it.

The distribution of copyrighted materials is something all social media networks have had to contend with. Many (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube) have brokered licensing deals with copyright holders to enable their users to attach song clips to posts and other things of that nature. As a result, it's been beneficial for artists who are now going viral on social media, particularly TikTok.

The lawsuit, which was filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee (Nashville Division), is supported by 17 music groups, such as Concord, Universal, Sony, BMG, Big Machine, Hipgnosis, EMI, Warner and more, including various entities under each of those names.

What the Lawsuit Says

The first part of the introduction outlined in the court documents state,

This is a civil action seeking damages and injunctive relief for Twitter’s willful copyright infringement. Twitter fuels its business with countless infringing copies of musical
compositions, violating Publishers’ and others’ exclusive rights under copyright law. 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.

Another section of the introduction notes,

The Twitter platform, which Elon Musk purchased in 2022 for $44 billion, is rife with copyright infringement. Both before and after the sale, Twitter has engaged in, knowingly facilitated, and profited from copyright infringement, at the expense of music creators, to whom Twitter pays nothing.

Section 8 argues,

Twitter knows perfectly well that neither it nor users of the Twitter platform have secured licenses for the rampant use of music being made on its platform as complained of herein.
Nonetheless, in connection with its highly interactive platform, Twitter consistently and knowingly hosts and streams infringing copies of musical compositions, including ones uploaded by or streamed to Tennessee residents and including specific infringing material that Twitter knows is infringing. Twitter also routinely continues to provide specific known repeat infringers with use of the Twitter platform, which they use for more infringement.

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Other portions of the court documents point to how Twitter actively promotes and recommends content that infringes on music copyrights and that in the company's own "marketing, blogs, or tweets," they boast that "music is the largest community" on the platform. What this means is that the unlawful distribution of copyrighted materials, such as music, adds value to Twitter by keeping its user base highly engaged and interactive.

In total, the plaintiffs claim roughly 1,700 pieces of music have been infringed upon in regards to the filing.

View all 54 pages of the court documents here.

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