Internet Archive faces $412 million copyright infringement lawsuit from record labels

The Great 78 Project contains 2,749 tracks including music by Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong.

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Internet Archives servers

Internet Archives

An online music library including the likes of Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong has become the target of a lawsuit filed by a number of major record labels.

The Great 78 Project, a library on Internet Archive, which is a non-profit digital library offering free universal access to books, movies and music, was created to preserve pre-1972 music. It consists of 2,749 tracks.

Universal Music Group, Sony Music, Capitol Records, and other labels have sued Internet Archive and its founder Brewster Kahle, alleging copyright infringement. It seeks damages of $150,000 per protected sound recording infringement, possibly exceeding a whopping $412 million, when legal costs and injunctive measures are factored in, according to Rolling Stone.

The labels have stated that the collection of songs breaches copyright by distributing protected sound recordings without permission. They argue that Internet Archive’s actions surpass preservation, offering unrestricted music access that disregards copyrights and artists’ rights.

This lawsuit is supported by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which stated to Rolling Stone: “The record company Plaintiffs bring this case to address Defendants’ industrial scale infringement of some of the most iconic recordings ever made – including classic works by Frank Sinatra, Thelonious Monk, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong and many more. Congress took decisive action to protect pre-1972 recordings in the Music Modernization Act.

“Defendants’ mass scale copying, streaming and distribution of the thousands of pre-1972 recordings identified in the complaint — all of which are commercially available on multiple legitimate streaming services – are blatant violations of those established rights. Just as Internet Archive’s supposed ‘emergency library’ of copyrighted books was recently ruled unlawful by a federal judge, its ‘Great 78’ project is yet another mass infringement scheme that has no basis in law.”

In June, Twitter was sued for copyright infringement by Sony Music, UMG and more after “rampant infringement” of copyrighted music. In this case, the labels are seeking damages of $250 million.


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