February 27, 2017
Originally posted 2018-11-19 11:20:36
By Christina Severino | amdlawgroup.com
Amid threats from one of the most prolific managers in the music industry, Irving Azoff, YouTube has refused to remove roughly 20,000 songs from its website. Azoff represents many of the artists whose songs are still made available on the site. Even though many artists are already protected by music rights advocacy organizations such as BMI and ASCAP, Azoff is also implementing a new initiative, Global Music RIghts (GMR). So far, the GMR has enlisted 42 artists, which Azoff claims are, “…massively underpaid,” given the rising popularity of loosely regulated digital music outlets. Many of the songs at issue come from artists such as The Eagles, Pharrell Williams and John Lennon.
GMR’s attorney, Howard King, has sent YouTube’s general counsel (Kent Walker) a letter, informing the company of their defiance in continuing performance of the 20,000 songs. Despite GMR’s letter to YouTube, YouTube has supposedly been in contact with Azoff, claiming that they have multiyear public performance licenses to use those 20,000 tracks of GMR artists. However, YouTube has not identified who granted those licenses, and has not provided any documentation of those licenses. The uphill battle between GMR and YouTube will likely result in a “willfull copyright infringement” lawsuit. Whether or not YouTube believes it is protected under previous licensing agreements between other organizations such as ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC, it is still left to be determined who should be required to give notice to YouTube when it is infringing on copyrightable interests. Given that each infringement runs about $10-50,000 in damages, YouTube could potentially face a $1 billion lawsuit should Azoff decide to proceed with litigation.