A group of music publishers has won $6.6 million in a copyright infringement case over song lyrics posted on websites owned by a co-founder of MySpace. Although a default judgment, it was the first of its kind involving lyrics on the Internet, according to plaintiffs attorneys.
U.S. District Judge George Wu of the Central District of California on October 9 ordered LiveUniverse Inc., owned by Brad Greenspan, to pay the amount for willfully violating copyright laws. The case centered on lyrics to 528 songs posted on LiveUniverse’s websites.
Wu awarded $12,500 for each song plus fees for the publishers’ attorneys. Some of the lyrics on the site, according to the plaintiffs, were from “China Girl” by David Bowie; “Moondance” by Van Morrison; and “Georgia on My Mind” performed by Ray Charles.
Representing publishers Peermusic, Bug Music Inc. and Warner Chappell Music Inc. were Arent Fox partners Ross Charap and Paul Faklar. Greenspan, who co-founded the once-popular social networking site MySpace, represented himself, having fired two attorneys previously, according to court records. Greenspan could not be reached for comment.
Wu, in issuing the award, noted that the court had issued three contempt orders against LiveUniverse during the litigation that began in 2009. The company also violated a preliminary injunction, the judge wrote.
The October 9 ruling granted the plaintiffs a permanent injunction and directed the attorneys to submit papers to determine the fee award.
Charap, who represented the publishers, said that many websites post song lyrics by lawfully obtaining licenses from copyright aggregators. But a number of sites continue to post lyrics unlawfully, a practice that he said he hoped this decision would deter.
“The publishers felt that we had to bring the lawsuit,” Charap said.
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