Universal Music Sues MySpace
Universal Music Group -- the world's largest music company, with acts ranging from Eminem to Elvis Costello -- is suing MySpace, the world's largest social networking site.
The issue: Copyright infringement. Universal claims that MySpace users are posting copyrighted songs and videos by Universal artists, who are not getting paid for their use.
Yuki Noguchi is working the story for tomorrow's paper.
Universal is on a bit of a litigation spree: It sued Grouper.com and Bolt.com last month, saying the sites encourage music video sharing without compensating the artists.
MySpace pulls out the legal boilerplate, calling the suit "meritless," arguing that the site works hard to prevent unauthorized used of copywritten material.
These two are a couple of media giants going at it. MySpace is owned by Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp Inc. Universal has 25 percent of the planet's music sales.
My hunch is that Universal is unhappy with MySpace's efforts to patrol its more than 100 million user profiles and wants to kick them in the pants a little. This was less of a problem a couple of years ago when MySpace had only a few million users and it was harder to post music and video to your profile.
MySpace's staff has not grown at the rate of its users, so the company has a harder time making sure its users are not violating copyright law. It's an object lesson in what happens when a garage company goes global. One of the reasons NewsCorp was attracted to MySpace was its small staff, relatively low overhead and massive user base and potential for advertising sales.
Now, the company's small staff and meteoric growth may prove its Achilles' heel. It's a jungle out there.
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