A group of prominent record labels, including Universal Music Group, Sony Music, and CMG, has initiated a copyright lawsuit against the digital library Internet Archive, dubbing its Great 78 project an “illegal record store,” according to a report by Rolling Stone.
The federal lawsuit, filed in New York, alleges that the community-driven Great 78 project is continuously and extensively violating copyright laws by distributing protected sound recordings to the public without obtaining authorization from rights holders.
Established by Internet Archive in 1996 with the assistance of LP digitization firm George Blood, the Great 78 project showcases almost 400,000 music pieces from the 78rpm era, featuring iconic artists like Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, and Chuck Berry.
The lawsuit details 2,749 music pieces, including classics such as Miles Davis’ ‘Milestones’, Buddy Holly’s ‘Peggy Sue’, and Duke Ellington’s ‘It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got Swing)’.
The plaintiffs argue that their music, recorded before 1972, has been unlawfully distributed “millions of times.” They are seeking damages of $150,000 per track, a sum that could exceed $500 million when including legal expenses if the violations are confirmed.
Lawyers representing the record labels assert, “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 lawsuit claims that Internet Archive has deliberately provided music access without regard for copyright laws. “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.”
Internet Archive is concurrently facing another legal battle for alleged copyright infringement, where major book publishers seek the removal of its catalog of in-copyright books. In a separate case, judges ruled in favor of publishers in March, with discussions ongoing regarding the potential imposition of an injunction on Internet Archive to remove all copyrighted content within 14 days.
Written by: Artificial Intelligence Technology