Major record labels file copyright lawsuit against Internet Archive

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A host of major record labels, including Universal Music Group, Sony Music and CMG, have filed a copyright lawsuit against digital library Internet Archive — labelling its Great 78 project an “illegal record store,” according to a report by Rolling Stone.

The federal lawsuit, which was filed in New York, claims that the community-run project is in “ongoing, massive violation” of distributing protected sound recordings to the public without authorisation from rights holders.

The Great 78 project, which was established in 1996 by Internet Archive with the help of LP digitising firm George Blood, features nearly 400,000 pieces of music from the 78rpm era – from artists such as Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra and Chuck Berry.

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The lawsuit lists 2,749 pieces of music, including Miles Davis’ ‘Milestones’, Buddy Holly’s ‘Peggy Sue’ and Duke Ellington’s ‘It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got Swing)’.

Plaintiffs claim that their music, consisting of material recorded before 1972, has been illegally distributed “millions of times,” and are claiming damages of $150,000 per track — a figure that could exceed $500 million with legal costs should they it found in violation.

“Defendants attempt to defend their wholesale theft of generations of music under the guise of ‘preservation and research,’ but this is a smokescreen: their activities far exceed those limited purposes,” lawyers acting on behalf of the record labels allege in the suit.

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The suit claims that Internet Archive has “unabashedly” sought to provide access to music, with no thought for copyright. “Internet Archive and the other Defendants have a long history of opposing, fighting, and ignoring copyright law, proclaiming that their zealotry serves the public good, In reality, Defendants are nothing more than mass infringers.”

The Internet Archive is currently battling another court case for alleged copyright infringement, in which a number of major book publishers have sought to remove its catalogue of in-copyright books. Judges ruled in favour of the publishers in March, with proposals currently being discussed to place an injunction on the Internet Archive to remove all copyrighted material within 14 days.

[Via: Rolling Stone]

Megan Townsend is Mixmag’s Deputy Editor, follow her on Twitter

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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