Record Labels Including Universal Music Group and Sony Music Sue Internet Archive Over Digitized Record Collection
At the bottom of this post we will be updating with additional reports, statements, and reactions. Latest Update 8/14: Statement: Internet Archive Responds to Lawsuit
Universal Music Group , Sony Music Entertainment, and other record labels on Friday sued the nonprofit Internet Archive for copyright infringement over its streaming collection of digitized music from vintage records.
The labels’ lawsuit filed in a federal court in Manhattan said the Archive’s “Great 78 Project” functions as an “illegal record store” for songs by musicians including Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis and Billie Holiday.
The companies include a list of 2749 recordings in the lawsuit, including Bing Crosby singing” White Christmas,” that “is but a small sample” of recordings the archive posted without permission, according to the complaint. They are asking the court to order the archive to remove all copyrighted material and pay damages of as much as $150,000 for each infringed work, which for the listed recordings would amount to $372 million.
From Rolling Stone:
The nonprofit Internet Archive began in 1996, stating its mission is to “provide Universal Access to All Knowledge.” It purports to be a digital library that provides free access to researchers, historians, scholars, and the general public. Its “Great 78 Project” follows suit; the community project dedicates itself to “the preservation, research and discovery of 78rpm records” per a post about the project. It provides free access to “over 400,000 recordings” as Internet Archive estimates in its post.
The Plaintiffs — UMG Recordings, Capitol Records, Concord Bicycle Assets, CMGI Recorded Music Assets, Sony Music, and Arista Music — who own in full or in part the copyrights to some of the music in the collection claim the works were illegally distributed to those visiting Internet Archive “millions of times.”
- Record Labels Hit Internet Archive With New $400m+ Copyright Lawsuit (via TorrentFreak, about 800 words)
Includes summary of the complaint.
- Coverage From Deadline.com
Complaint & Docket
- Read the Complaint, Filed in Southern District of New York (Case 1:23-cv-07133)
52 pages; PDF.
- Exhibit A — Sound Recordings at Issue
- Direct to Case Docket
UPDATED Jan 31, 2024 Internet Archive Fires Back Against Major Label Infringement Suit, Alleging ‘A Substantial Swath’ of Time-Barred Claims (via Digital Music News) ||| Direct to Complete Filing (Motion to Dismiss)
UPDATED December 8, 2024 Opinio/Order to Transfer Cases to Northern District of California
August 14, 2023, 6:25pm Statement Internet Archive Responds to Recording Industry Lawsuit Targeting Obsolete Media
“When people want to listen to music they go to Spotify. When people want to study sound recordings as they were originally created, they go to libraries like the Internet Archive. Both are needed. There shouldn’t be conflict here.”
These preservation recordings are used in teaching and research, including by university professors like Jason Luther of Rowan University, whose students use the Great 78 collection as the basis for researching and writing podcasts for use in class assignments (University Professor Leverages 78rpm Record Collection From the Internet Archive for Student Podcasts, June 9, 2021). While this mode of access is important, usage is tiny—on average, each recording in the collection is only accessed by one researcher per month.
While we review the lawsuit, we remain dedicated to our mission of providing “Universal Access to All Knowledge.” We are grateful for the continued support of our library patrons and partners as we continue to fight these attack.
Read the Complete Statement
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.