Universal goes after MySpace

New just in… Universal Music Group, the world's largest recorded-music company, has sued News Corp's MySpace for copyright infringement, alleging that the social-networking giant traffics in "user-stolen" content, including music, videos and other material.

At issue is the widespread presence of copyright music and video content on MySpace. In the suit, filed in US District Court for California's Central District, Vivendi SA's Universal dismisses the frequently used label "user-generated content" - alleging that much of the material on MySpace is stolen from copyright holders.

According to reports by MarketWatch and Hollywood Reporter. The suit accuses MySpace of operating a "vast virtual warehouse" of "user-stolen" content and asks for damages of up to $150,000 for each song and video.

In a statement, MySpace dismissed the suit as "unnecessary and meritless" and said it has "no doubt we will prevail in court." It claims that it is protected under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which shields Internet service providers from certain copyright violations committed by their users.

Universal, however, appears set to argue that the DMCA protections do not apply in this case for two reasons: MySpace reformats files uploaded by its members, and it runs ads tailored to the user-uploaded songs and videos. Therefore, it argues, MySpace is not a passive network operator but rather is complicit in the copyright infringement and profits from it. Should the case go to trial, it could produce a landmark ruling with far-reaching implications for internet media sites that rely on so-called user-generated content.

What next? YouTube?

I can see the arguments from both sides – but it reminds me of my yoof and magnetic tape. Can you remember taping the the top twenty countdown on Sunday evening – trying to edit out the dulcet tones of Tony Blackburn with the record/on-off switches.

Back then were called Music Pirates – which I always thought rather grand for a bunch of pre-pubescent teenages. It always conjured mages of cutlasses and doubloons, and I had neither. Anyway, I’ll enjoy listening to the arguments if they ever get to court.

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