Twitter is being sued by The National Music Publishers Association for having no policies around respecting musical copyright.
Elon Musk is in hot water yet again this week as Variety reports that Twitter has been hit with a massive lawsuit from a number of music publishers. Specifically, 17 major music labels, united by The National Music Publishers Association, have filed a federal suit against the site for its failure to license music found all across the platform. The copyright infringement suit seeks more than $250 million in damages, alleging that approximately 1,700 compositions have been mishandled across hundreds of thousands of instances.
While it remains unclear whether the suit will yield positive results for the Association, the $250 million price tag is surely nothing to scoff at. Even for a billionaire such as Elon Musk, facing damages such as these during Twitter’s ongoing struggle to balance changes made by the Tesla founder’s newfound reign would be difficult to justify to the site’s remaining business partners.
The changes to the long-held Twitter interface include a paid verification system that previously left the site liable for millions in potential damages due to rampant identity mimicking and advertising revenue loss, as well as a $1,000 per month business verification system which saw several large corporate entities departing from Twitter entirely. One of the most high-profile companies to formally announce their departure from the website was NPR, which refused to engage with the new verification system after being slapped with Elon’s “government-funded media” label.
The complaint from The National Music Publishers Association states that numerous copyright violations have occurred as exclusive music content fuels Twitter’s business. Most users can likely agree that Twitter has no chance of replacing Spotify, Apple Music, or any other music streamer. However nearly everyone who engages with the site is aware of the musical content which finds its way across the feed.
The complaint alleges that Twitter is an especially egregious offender in this regard, as a number of Twitter competitors utilize proper licenses for the use of copyrighted compositions.
Whether Twitter is truly too cavalier with copyrighted content or not, the complaint specifically notes that the site makes millions of dollars of revenue off the backs of hard-working artists and music label executives each year, suggesting that the site has caused irreparable harm to publishers across the world. In an era of artificial intelligence and easy-to-learn music programs in nearly every modern phone and computer, it seems strange that a platform would rely on stealing content from artists rather than creating its own royalty-free sound bank.
While other companies, such as TikTok, Twitch, and even Peloton, have reached legal agreements with publishers for similar infractions, reps from the NMPA have stated that Twitter has repeatedly refused to work together with publishers to rectify this issue. According to Variety, when Twitter was prompted via email with an opportunity to respond to these allegations, the site’s press account responded using an auto-reply consisting only of a single poop emoji.