The National Music Publishers Association. has filed a copyright infringement suit against Fullscreen Inc., a multi-channel network (MCN) operating on YouTube and largely comprised of independent artists playing cover songs allegedly without proper licensing or paying royalties.
Fullscreen declined to comment on the lawsuit.
"The problem of copyright infringement is endemic to the MCN industry,” David Israelite, NMPA president and CEO, said in a statement. “Fullscreen’s success and growth as a digital business is attributable in large part to the prevalence and popularity of its unlicensed music videos. We must stop the trend of ignoring the law, profiting from someone else’s work, then asking forgiveness when caught. It is not only unfair, it is unacceptable.”
However, in February of this year, Fullscreen did sign a publishing agreement with Universal Music Publishing Group.
According to the NMPA, Fullscreen has 15,000 YouTube channels with more than 200 million subscribers, which average 284 million videos per month in the U.S.
The NMPA suit filed against Fullscreen is apparently a shot across the bow to other MCNs to enter into settlement talks. The NMPA said that the lawsuit is a signal to the MCN industry that copyright infringement and unlicensed use of works in video must stop. We must build a digital marketplace that can thrive and give music fans what they want, when they want it," Israelite said. "Ignoring the law should not be allowed as a business model."
At the same time, NMPA said it has reached a settlement in principle with Maker Studios, another large MCN, which will result in Maker being licensed going forward, so that songwriters and music publishers will receive proper compensation. It also includes a mechanism to provide compensation for past infringement.