Music site LiveUniverse.com has been struck with a $6.6m lawsuit for posting song lyrics without proper authorisation. The website, founded by MySpace co-founder Brad Greenspan, was taken down in 2010, and has been embroiled in a lengthy legal case ever since.
The case, captioned Peermusic,III, LTD.,et al v LiveUniverse,Inc. and Brad Greenspan, has pitted a group of leading music publishers (including Peermusic, Bug music and Warner Chappell) against Greenspan; who, through LiveUniverse and its related sites, is deemed to have published lyrics to 528 songs for which he had no license.
The plaintiffs will now be awarded with $6.6m in statutory damages for this mass copyright infringement, thanks to the ruling of a California court. Their legal representative, Paul Fakler, intellectual property specialist for Arent Fox lawyers, commented that, “Greenspan engaged in serial misconduct and refused to pay the court sanctions. Towards the end he would show up and have either a new lawyer or no lawyer.”
Now Greenspan will have to pay out around $12,500 for each and every offending song.
This is a landmark case, the first to establish copyright infringement liability for displaying song lyrics on a website without a license from the song’s copyright owner. It is likely to be an important stage in the battle between the music industry and some of its unlicensed rivals.
Ross Charap, also of Arent Fox, commented “These sites are making hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars a year, on the backs of people who write this music and own this music.”
Whether this will mean that those sites who are still out there begin to pay publishers and songwriters for content remains to be seen.
[Source: Music Week]