UMG, Sony, Capitol, and More File Copyright Lawsuit Against Internet Archive

Major record labels including Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Capitol have filed a copyright lawsuit against the Internet Archive and its founder Brewster Kahle over the “Great 78 Project,” an initiative aimed to preserve and provide free access to pre-1972 musical works from artists like Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong.

In the suit filed Friday (August 11th), the labels claim that the project — which Internet Archive describes as a hub for “the preservation, research and discovery of 78rpm records” — violates copyright laws, and argues that by “transferring copies of those files to members of the public, Internet Archive has reproduced and distributed without authorization Plaintiffs’ protected sound recordings.”

The group of plaintiffs also includes Concord Bicycle Assets, CMGI Recorded Music Assets, and Arista Music, who all own full or partial copyrights to some of the music in the collection, and allege the recordings were illegally distributed to Internet Archive users “millions of times.”

The suit goes on to claim that the defendants have a history of disregarding copyright law and are engaging in mass infringement: “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,” the claim reads. “Internet Archive unabashedly seeks to provide free and unlimited access to music for everyone, regardless of copyright.”

Internet Archive staff and volunteers have compiled various concert footage on the platform’s Live Music Archive over the past 20 or so years; just last week, they celebrated having acquired over 250,000 recordings, featuring live performances from The Grateful Dead, Phil Lesh and Friends, Smashing Pumpkins, and many more. Read more about the archive’s history here.

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Written by Red Devil Radio

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