MySpace Hit With Copyright Suit by Universal Music

MySpace.com, the uber-popular social networking website, on Friday was hit with a copyright-infringement lawsuit filed by Universal Music Group for letting its members post and download protected content to their site profiles, The New York Times reports.

Media maven Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., which owns MySpace, was also named as a defendant in the suit, according to the Times.

The move comes as the recording industry is attempting to stem dwindling CD sales and address the rampant issues of music piracy and file sharing of copyrighted materials. The popularity of sites like MySpace and YouTube brought the issue into the public eye in recent days, and music firms want in on some of the associated advertising revenue generated by pages that boast copyrighted music or video content.

Sites like MySpace and YouTube.com say they don’t violate copyright restrictions because they remove all protected content immediately at the request of the copyright owner. 

The suit filed Friday in a Los Angeles, Calif., federal court by Universal Music, the largest music firm in the world, represents a move on the firm’s part to test sections of a federal law protecting Web companies that comply with certain restrictions meant to ensure copyrighted material is not posted on sites without the proper authorization, according to the Times.

Doug Morris, Universal chief executive officer, called out YouTube and MySpace earlier this year, labeling them as copyright infringers, the Times reports.

MySpace said in a statement Friday that is in complete compliance with federal law regarding copyright protections and called the Universal suit “unnecessary and meritless,” according to the Times.

Universal last month sued Grouper Networks and Bolt, two Web firms, for copyright infringement, the Times reports; however, the suit against MySpace is more significant because of the popularity of the social networking site, which claims tens of millions of users.

The action comes on the heels of an announcement by MySpace in late October regarding a new technology it licensed to help stop its users from posting copyrighted material to their site profiles without authorization, as well as ban members who repeatedly violate copyright restrictions.

On Friday, MySpace also said it would launch a new tool to help copyright owners mark pages on which protected material is posted without consent so said material can be removed, the Times reports.

Experts suggest the new suit filed against MySpace is not intended to result in a drawn-out court battle; rather, Universal hopes to gain better positioning for negotiations with MySpace and sites like it regarding licensing of content for use on such Web locales, according to the Times.

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