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Universal Music Sues MySpace

Frank Ahrens

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.

By Frank Ahrens  |  November 17, 2006; 5:33 PM ET  | Category:  Frank Ahrens
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Comments

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I feel sorry for MySpace. MySpace will lose. Rupert Murdoch made big mistake buying MySpace, he should of stayed with what he does best, which is to provide propaganda news.

Even though I was one of the first user in Myspace, I never liked it. They copied lot of other sites that existed before like Xanga, later FaceBook.

Posted by: tarikur | November 17, 2006 10:43 PM

Myspace is a very ugly and poorly designed/conceived website - I hope it does lose, if only to keep the eyesore off the 'net for good.

Posted by: scottcc | November 18, 2006 12:09 AM

It's possible this is actually related to Google's acquisition of YouTube. Mark Cuban, entrepreneur, billionaire and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, has been a critic of YouTube for the last few months. He received an email with some "intimate details" which hinted that Google and YouTube may be behind some of this. Apparently, YouTube asked some media companies to pursue lawsuits against its competitors, as a condition of the recent licensing agreements between YouTube and the media companies. The email has NOT been fact-checked, but Mr. Cuban trusts the author, and it sounds pretty believable. Here's the link:

http://www.blogmaverick.com/2006/10/30/some-intimate-details-on-the-google-youtube-deal/

Rather disturbing, really.

Posted by: Ryan | November 18, 2006 2:15 AM

Your article on UMG vs. Myspace was insightful, but you and other reporters are missing a very big part of this story. Complaints to myspace through their reporting tool of copyright infringements, inappropriate content (nudity for example), or posted child porn on the myspace.com site by users in profiles has about a 3-4 week turn around time for action. I aways report inappropriate contact on myspace when I see it, but I don't receive an acknowledgment from myspace that they have reviewed and acted on it until at least a month has passed. Looking at the millions of dollars behind myspace's operations, shouldn't the reporting of such problems receive faster turn around time than a month? Think about how much damage can be done in 30 days. Why aren't any reporters commenting on this? Or about how that 2/3 of the time, myspace pages don't load and you can't send messages on the site. What advertiser in his right mind puts ads on a site that only loads 1/3 of the time? Sounds to me like you've got old men with no PC experience buying ad space based solely on numbers provided by myspace without actually examining site functionality.

Posted by: Chuck Paugh | November 18, 2006 2:23 AM

Collaboration is the key word now. Universal Music sueing myspace is another last ditch effort to revive the flagging sales of the music industry. But the birth of web2.0 has sealed their fate and will confirm the demise of the music industry as we know it. Holly wood will follow the same fate as web2.0 makes entertainment infinitely more varied and free. Hollywood just has a sorry future in the coming days. The news industry and the likes of CNN, FOX and ABC will just fail to compete with the collaborative power and pasion of the individual journalist. Public created collaborative news will rule the day and cause the extinction of the news industry as we know it now. Fasten your seat belts, as the days ahead will be pregnant with revolutionary technologies that will change forever the way we see and do things. In short, web2.0 will be the great disruptor and petty lawsuits from the media industry will not prevent the forward march of collaborative power. Collaboration is king now!

Posted by: collaboration king | November 18, 2006 3:41 AM

I thought everybody knew no one cares about the exploited or ethics. I can now say I am proud of Google for playing with the loaded dice and dark glasses. News Corp is just keeping up the ROI on Myspace. Google can afford the risk with YouTube . I m proud of them for joining the club. History repeats its self and this Internet will be a long Wild West.
Enjoy the profits while they last , they will only be temporary. Pain is only temporary enjoy that while it lasts too.
It is too easy for mega players to just sit and watch the dollars role in. The lawsuits only make more profits and provide a sense of justice to the public , carry on nothing to see here folks. Then sudden crash and burn, that will be looked at with joy, as the cycle will begin again , with desire from all who profit. The other sides can rejoice in the chance to make the front page stories on the deception exposed. Joy is around the corner , new laws that are so clear to avoid the practice from going on any further. Now each time the system is exploited , the blueprints are ready for approval from the parties that lost this time around because nothing ever changed. The new round of open fraud glued to the market so tightly , so clear it happens again and again. The lack of rocket science involved in being a member of this game makes it so easy to write a comment box full of statements in clear disregard for proper use of writing. The clear enjoyment of leaving rules for communication open to such abuse might create the perfect goal being completed Now based on such rambles above for the sake of making a point will pardon myself. I hope my dangerous run on sentences that drip so heavy with commas will ramble clearly the idea with the clarity of presenting this matter by this nature , ensure such foolish people me understand we can change. I close my eyes, some level of peace of mind felt in my selfish act to use distraction as a weapon to make my point . Rupert Murdoch at least he knows when to act fast and attain his goals.

Posted by: Mike | November 18, 2006 5:37 AM

I'm sure that if the music industry could prove that people were humming copywrited songs in there heads there would be more litigation.
These peoples greed knows no bounds.
Be careful what you whistle when you walk down the street people, you may find yourself in court.

Posted by: TL Myers | November 18, 2006 10:09 AM

Personally, I would like to see the demise of the music industry. I would rather be entertained by live local musicians. I can't see that any of the big names are worth the huge sums we pay them. Let's try to support local talent and abandon them if they get too big for their britches.

Posted by: Robert | November 18, 2006 7:03 PM

Just a quick thought...

After Universal sues MySpace and IF they win, how much of this tens of millions of dollars will actually go to the artists???

Whose really making the money in the music industry?

Posted by: RichardB | November 18, 2006 9:10 PM

haha rupert murdoch is getting sued for copyright infringement, anyone else get the irony here?

Posted by: lordzombie | November 19, 2006 12:42 AM

This is all about big brother pushing us around. They want myspace to pay mob protection money and myspace won't bow down.
They want myspace to post NSA hacks into peoples machines so that they can spy on people. They want people to spend money.
It is a shame, and I for one think its vile.

Posted by: Darth zoon | November 19, 2006 7:24 PM

now that the net makes it easy to distribute, they can't get their cut.

and the artist USED to have to buy into the ponzi distribution scheme as there was no other way.

now there is.

they better get with the change and lower prices on music, or people will just walk around them.

as far as sueing MySpace for what it's users are doing, is like sueing car companies, because people are using cars for illegal things.

is it the car or the people?

mel riser

Posted by: music industry was a monopoly because of distribution | November 19, 2006 11:24 PM

FREAK UNIVERSAL .. ALWAYS suing someone over something for some freakin reason .. i mean who gives a CRAP .. universal is making billions .. and im sure they compensate for thier artist right .. NOT!!! money hungry universal is prlly takin all the money and not giving ish to any artists .. gready BAST***S ...

Posted by: sri | November 19, 2006 11:49 PM

I think Myspace needs to loose because it's a poor website and very unsafe. My friend goes to the that website and I tell her not to because Myspace sucks and is a looser site but she doesn't listen.

Posted by: Nathan | November 20, 2006 12:39 AM

I hate Myspace then dam basters

Posted by: freky | November 20, 2006 12:41 AM

It looks as though a capitalist e-business is the wrong move. Is this the message to send to innovative entrepreneurs leading the way in the digital age?

Although there are many things to be found wrongfully occurring on mySpace, such as child predators and links to sex/vidcam sites, this is the one getting attention...

All hail the mighty dollar!

TW

Posted by: Tim Welbourne | November 20, 2006 10:37 AM

Lawsuit Smawsuit...music, like speech, is free now...someone should let the "music industry" know...did they really think winning their suit against Napster was going to change ANYTHING? HaHaHa

Posted by: Reality Check | November 20, 2006 2:22 PM

there are more important things to worry about then this - like the war in Iraq!!

Posted by: So what | November 20, 2006 3:01 PM

you're a bunch of idiots. grow up seriously. it's a bunch of bull and it's funny that you spend your time b*tching about this, ironically enough i'm taking the time to do it too. btw we all need a good spelling/typing course. peace out. and let the world of hypocrytes do their thing.

Posted by: Brittany | November 20, 2006 3:25 PM

Myspace is going to lose because Universal is going to win

Posted by: Hiiiiiiiii Guys | November 20, 2006 3:54 PM

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