Meta Hit with Copyright Infringement Suit by Epidemic Sounds
Steven T. Lowe
On July 20th, 2022, a Swedish company known as Epidemic Sound filed a lawsuit in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, alleging that in creating its “Reels Remix” feature, Meta (the company that owns Facebook and Instagram) has infringed on Epidemic’s copyrighted music.
Here is what the case is about: Meta allows users to download, stream, and synchronize music (with video content) for free through its “app features” on both Facebook and Instagram. Meta’s “Reels Remix” feature on Instagram allows a user to incorporate another user’s video into their own, including any audio that was included in the original video. Meta’s “Original Audio” feature allows users to incorporate music into their own video content, similar to what TikTok does. Meta gives the copyright owners of the music the ability to manage and receive compensation for the use of their music through a “rights management tool.”
However, Epidemic alleges that Meta will not give them access to the tool despite repeated requests.
Epidemic makes the claim that Meta has been offering and continues to offer Epidemic’s music to all of its users without authorization. Meta typically makes licensed music from other copyright owners and distributors, but Epidemic makes the claim that they have not done so in regard to Epidemic’s music. According to Epidemic, Meta’s refusal to grant access to this management tool has permitted its music to be used in over 50,000 videos and 30,000 new uploads of their music on a daily basis without authorization from or payment to Epidemic.
Epidemic seeks the Court to “declare” that Meta has directly infringed on Epidemic Sounds’ rights by “storing, reproducing, distributing and performing ” Epidemic’s songs. Epidemic further claims in its lawsuit that Meta is “secondarily liable” by inducing its user’s infringement each time users access the “Original Audio”/“Reels Remix” features to create content with Epidemic’s works. Epidemic seeks a permanent injunction enjoining Meta’s infringing conduct and millions in damages.
Author’s Note: It seems like Meta should do what TikTok does, namely, create licensing agreement deals with music distributors so that artists may receive royalties for the use of their music on the platform.
Epidemic Sound Inc. is represented by Adam S. Cashman, Evan Budaj of Singer Cashman LLP, and Ilene Farkas and M. Mona Simonian of Pryor Cashman LLP.
Counsel information for Meta Platforms Inc. was not immediately available.
The case is Epidemic Sound AB v. Meta Platforms Inc., case number 3:22-cv-04223-LB, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
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