Five companies under the Universal Music Group umbrella have sued the operators of Grouper Networks and Bolt, two online music and video networking sites, for copyright infringement.

Five companies under the Universal Music Group umbrella have sued the operators of Grouper Networks and Bolt, two online music and video networking sites, for copyright infringement.

In separate suits filed in the federal District Court in Los Angeles, the complaints allege that Sausalito, Calif.-based Grouper and New York-based Bolt are user-generated content sites that build their businesses on the intellectual property of others. Rather than using their own content, the companies chose to "seed and grow" their services with the copyrights of others, including Universal. It is not sharing, but rather mass infringement, the suits claim.

"Universal Music Group is committed to embracing innovative new ways to bring our music and videos to consumers -- but 'innovation' that breaks the law and runs roughshod over the rights of content creators is not innovation at all," according to a statement from UMG. "User generated sites like Grouper and Bolt, that derive so much of their value from the traffic that our videos, recordings and songs generate, cannot reasonably expect to build their business on the backs of our content and the hard work of our artists and songwriters -- without permission and without in any way compensating the content creators."

Unlike past infringement suits filed jointly by major labels or publishers against online services, only UMG companies are parties to these complaints filed Oct. 16. Plaintiffs are UMG Recordings, Universal Music Corp., Songs of Universal, Universal-PolyGram International Publishing and Rondor International Publishing. UMG declined to comment on the reason. They are seeking $150,000 per infringement, injunctions and attorney's fees.

"We have not received any lawsuit at this point," a Bolt spokeswoman said in a statement. "In the 10 years we've been in business, we have always complied with all requests from the RIAA and other organizations to remove any copyrighted content upon request... We welcome an open dialog with Universal to resolve our situation amicably and bring Universal Music to our more than five million monthly unique users." Grouper could not be reached for comment.