National Music Publishers’ Association Sues Fullscreen for Unlicensed Cover Videos

/ Aug 6, 2013


The National Music Publishers’ Association is suing Fullscreen for allegedly using and profiting off of unlicensed music — in other words, the cover songs Fullscreen creators post on YouTube.

The NMPA claims Fullscreen directly profits from ad revenue generated by unlicensed music videos on their channels, but does not compensate songwriters or music publishers.

“The problem of copyright infringement and unlicensed use of music is endemic to the MCN industry,” said David Israelite, NMPA president and CEO, in a statement. “Fullscreen’s success and growth as a digital business is attributable in large part to the prevalence and popularity of its unlicensed music videos. We must stop the trend of ignoring the law, profiting from someone else’s work, then asking forgiveness when caught. It is not only unfair, it is unacceptable.”

The NMPA had been suing Maker Studios on similar grounds. While announcing the new copyright infringement lawsuit against Fullscreen, the NMPA said it had also settled its issue with Maker, which has agreed to compensate songwriters and music publishers for past infringement. Maker will also officially license music going forward.

Last month, Fullscreen launched a new Creator Platform, which comes with a proprietary app (FAM) that allows Fullscreen creators and brand partners to access a library of licensed music. It’s unclear how the NMPA’s lawsuit ties into all of this — if the lawsuit is for alleged transgressions before the launch of FAM, or if there are songs covered by Fullscreen creators that do not belong in the app library.

In either case, the lawsuits against Fullscreen and Maker signal an issue that the MCN and music industries need to resolve, says Brandon Martinez, co-founder and CEO of INDMUSIC, a music-centric MCN on YouTube. “The primary issue with networks that are entertainment-focused (as opposed to music MCNs), like both Fullscreen and Maker Studios, is that they are concerned with one video at a time. The publishers, on the other hand, are concerned with the long-term rights and protecting the long-tail life of their works,” he says. “Until a best practices standard that fits both parties needs is established, we’re going to continue to see disputes like this one and the recent issues with Universal Music Group.”

Fullscreen declined to comment.

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