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The National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) has filed a lawsuit in the federal court of Tennessee against Twitter on behalf of 17 music publishers representing some of the biggest artists in the industry, claiming that the company “fuels its business with countless infringing copies of musical compositions, violating publishers’ and others’ exclusive rights under copyright law.”
The NMPA has provided a list of approximately 1,700 songs that it claims have been the subject of multiple copyright infringement notices to Twitter without taking any action. The association is seeking fines of up to $150,000 for each violation, which totals $255 million.
The issue predates Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter for $44 billion last year. According to unnamed Twitter employees cited by The New York Times, the platform had refrained from entering into music licensing deals due to the potentially exorbitant costs estimated to exceed $100 million annually. It was also reported in March that licensing negotiations between major labels and Twitter stalled after Musk’s takeover.
The lawsuit references some of Musk’s tweets, although it does not mention the recent surge of movie uploads to Twitter. Instead, it cites Musk’s interaction with a user who complained about potential account suspension after receiving copyright notices.
Musk responded that he was “looking into” the matter and suggested that the user consider turning on subscriptions, which the lawsuit argues was an encouragement to pay Twitter to hide infringing material to avoid detection.
The NMPA claims that Twitter has failed to remove infringing content despite being notified and accuses the platform of supporting repeat infringers without consequences for their accounts. The alleged infringements primarily involve music videos, live performances, and videos synchronised to copyrighted music, with the NMPA asserting that Twitter leverages this content to increase user engagement and enhance its value.
Unlike other major social networks, including TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat, which have entered into music licensing agreements, Twitter has yet to secure such deals. Other companies, such as Roblox and Peloton, have recently settled with NPMA over music copyright issues.
Musk and the new Twitter CEO, Linda Yaccarino has yet to comment on the issue.
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