Universal Music Group is taking on the Internet's most popular social networking site and its global media parent. UMG labels and publishers sued MySpace and parent company News Corporation today (Nov

Universal Music Group is taking on the Internet's most popular social networking site and its global media parent. UMG labels and publishers sued MySpace and parent company News Corporation today (Nov. 17) for copyright infringement.

The owners of the site have "made infringement free and easy, turning MySpace videos into a vast virtual warehouse for pirated copies of music videos and songs," the complaint says. They use "extensive efforts to encourage members to upload pirated videos to MySpace servers." The site reportedly has more than 50 million unique visitors per month and more than 200,000 new registrations each day.

The complaint includes an example of a MySpace page showing a pirated video of "Beautiful Day" by UMG artist U2. It was viewed more than 2,000 times according to the site, the suit says.

"Businesses that seek to trade off on our content, and the hard work of our artists and songwriters, shouldn’t be free to do so without permission and without fairly compensating the content creators," a UMG spokesperson said in a statement. "Our music and videos play a key role in building the communities that have created hundreds of millions of dollars of value for the owners of MySpace. Our goal is not to inhibit the creation of these communities, but to ensure that our rights and those of our artists are recognized."

The suit comes on the same day that MySpace announced plans for a new tool for copyright holders that would purportedly make it easier and faster to remove content they allege is unauthorized. The tool, which would automate the notice-and-takedown process when unauthorized copyrighted work is detected, is being tested with FOX and MLB Advanced Media.

Universal also focuses on the music portions of the MySpace site that is purportedly reserved for authentic musicians and bands. But, the complaint states, MySpace "has enabled countless members to set up and maintain phony artist profiles that hijack the names of famous artists so that MySpace can provide its users with free pirated sound recordings."

“MySpace provides an extraordinary promotion platform for artists -- from major labels to independent acts -- while respecting their copyrights," a MySpace spokesperson said in a statement. "We have been keeping UMG closely apparised of our industry leading efforts to protect creators' rights, and it's unfortunate they decided to file this unnecessary and meritless litigation. We provide users with tools to share their own work – we do not induce, encourage,or condone copyright violation in any way. "We are in full compliance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and have no doubt we will prevail in court. Moreover, we proactively take steps to filter unauthorized music sound recordings and have implemented audio fingerprinting technology. We will continue working to be the gold standard in protecting creators' rights as well as the world's leading lifestyle portal."

The suit, filed in the federal District Court in Los Angeles, includes claims for direct copyright infringement, secondary copyright infringement and deceptive business practices.

UMG Recordings, Universal Music Corp., Songs of Universal, Universal-PolyGram International Publishing and Rondor Music International are seeking $150,000 per infringement against MySpace Inc., MySpace.com and News Corporation, which acquired MySpace in September 2005 as part of a $580 million acquisition.

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