By Sahil Patel
Another day, another music rights owner suing a YouTube multi-channel network.
In this case, Freeplay Music, a New York-based music licensing company with rights to “tens of thousands” of songs, is suing Maker Studios, AwesomenessTV (and its Big Frame unit), and BroadbandTV for YouTube copyright infringement, according to Variety. The suit alleges that, collectively, the four MCNs did not obtain a license for over a hundred songs that are being illegally used by their talent in YouTube videos.
Specifically, Freeplay claims that Maker is infringing on over 45 copyrights, AwesomenessTV and Big Frame are infringing on 14 copyrights, and BroadbandTV is infringing on over 70 copyrights. The company is seeking unspecified monetary damages, and a stop to all the infringing activity, in return.
If the Freeplay name sounds familiar, it’s the same company that is being sued by two other major MCNs — Machinima and Collective Digital Studio — for using “troll” tactics. In that suit, the two MCNs essentially claim that Freeplay at first offered music for free, only to then threaten to sue unless the MCNs paid a license fee. Freeplay responded by saying those accusations were “baseless.”
This is certainly not the first (and most likely won’t be the last) time an MCN butts heads with a music rights holder. In 2013, Maker Studios and Fullscreen were sued by the National Music Publishers’ Association for copyright infringement. Both cases were later settled.
YouTube has a copyright scanning system known as Content-ID that allows rights owners to track when their content is being used without their permission in videos. The owners can claim an infringing video and either take it down or monetize by collecting ad revenue against it. In late 2013, YouTube launched a new system that put MCNs more in control of copyright use (and misuse) for their “managed” channel partners.
That same year, Freeplay started offering its music for free on YouTube, in exchange for the ability to claim and monetize those videos using Content-ID, per the report.