Universal Music Group on Friday sued MySpace.com, claiming the online social-networking hub illegally encourages its users to share music and music videos on the site without permission.
In the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, Universal Music contends MySpace, a unit of News Corp., attempts to shield itself from liability by requiring users agree to grant the Web site a license to publish the content they upload to the site. Users, however, have no such authority over works they don’t own.
The Web site also ”encourages, facilitates and participates in the unauthorized reproduction, adaptation, distribution and public performance,” according to the suit.
The Reuters article contrasts MySpace with YouTube: Universal Music sues MySpace over music copyrights – pdf
[The lawsuit] follows several months of talks on music rights with News Corp.’s (NYSE:NWS – news) MySpace, which broke down late on Thursday, a source familiar with the discussions said.
It claims thousands of links to music from Universal’s biggest artists, including Jay-Z and Gwen Stefani, are widely available on MySpace, even ahead of their release to music stores. It estimated maximum statutory damages for each copyrighted work at $150,000.
Earlier on Friday, MySpace unveiled an enhanced copyright protection tool to make it easier for content owners to remove unauthorized material.
[..] In the case of YouTube, now owned by Google Inc. (Nasdaq:GOOG – news), Universal Music reached a licensing agreement to give the site and its users access to thousands of music videos.
Other entertainment companies have been reluctant to take legal action against the likes of YouTube and MySpace because of the potential promotional exposure such sites may give to their artists. MySpace says it has more than 130 million users.
News of Universal’s suit comes a day after News Corp. said Ross Levinsohn, the executive who led the $580-million acquisition of MySpace, had resigned from the company.
Later: FindLaw has the filing
Later – NYTimes full article – Universal Music Sues MySpace for Copyright Infringement