Warner Music Group Will Not Be Accepting Imeem’s Friend Request

May 16th, 2007 // 3 Comments

logo_tag.gifWarner Music Group became the latest major label to sue a social-networking site on Tuesday, when it went to court with a complaint against the imeem, which allows users to share audio and video streams. No word on the exact amount of damages WMG is seeking, but judging by the damages it’s looking for per unauthorized usage, we’re imagining the tally is pretty high:

The record company seeks a court order to stop imeem from using Warner Music content on its site, and unspecified damages, including up to $150,000 for each unauthorized music video or song posted on the Web site.

In its complaint, Warner claims imeem invites “millions of users to flock to its Web site to copy, adapt, distribute and perform unlicensed sound recordings and musicvideos.”

The record company also contends imeem’s operators have deliberately refrained from using technology to prevent its users from sharing content.

“Imeem itself directly engages in much of the infringing conduct by duplicating, adapting, distributing and performing Plaintiff’s works through imeem’s own servers,” the lawsuit states.

WMG’s suit against imeem joins Universal Music Group’s suit against MySpace in the “labels vs. social networks” arena, although truth be told, we didn’t really know imeem did much else aside from allowing sites to embed streaming media. Whether or not infringement-fighting initiatives like MySpace’s “Take Down, Stay Down” will accelerate these lawsuits being settled out of court is unclear, but we’re pretty sure one thing: The founders of Friendster are probably pretty happy right now that they didn’t get into the music game, since they can now spend less money on lawyers and more money on … well, whatever they’re doing now that their site’s turned into something of a ghost town. (A ghost town that sends us a lot of e-mails, but still.)

Warner Music sues social-networking site [Variety]

  1. Chris Molanphy

    Sounds like one of those creative lawsuits that unfortunately sometimes work in court.

    Remember the one where…I think it was MP3.com got sued for having copies of major-label product for identification purposes when a used popped a CD into their PC to prove they’d bought it? They weren’t actually giving anything away (and their model actually encouraged CD buying), and yet the technicality of them having copies on a master server got them sued out of existence.

    Who knows – post-Grokster (cf. Supreme Court case), Warner and Edgar “the Beggar” might find a sympathetic judge for this bullshit.

  2. Deadly Tango

    $150,000 is the maximum statutory damages per act of willful infringement as spelled out in the US Copyright Act. Assuming there’s a trial and Warners proves willful infringement, the judge could still ratchet down that number. And if the infringement is negligent instead of willful, then the maximum statutory damage award is $30,000.

    The real trick in most copyright litigation is that statutory damages are significantly greater than actual damages resulting from an infringement (and far easier to obtain, since you don’t have to prove that harm occured). If WMG had to prove the decline in its business directly attributable to Imeem and could only collect that amount in damages, they wouldn’t bother with the attorneys.

    As usual, expect a settlement and perhaps a license agreement (unless WMG is feeling vindictive and wants to wipe out Imeem).

  3. coolfer

    i’m no lawyer, but i don’t think imeem would have a tough time getting the proper licensing deals for on-demand streaming. the majors have been very open to ad-supported business models (which is the deal imeem has with snocap). without such licensing deals, imeem is basically a streaming music service that doesn’t pay royalties. this isn’t a creative lawsuit. this is as basic an infringement lawsuit as we’re going to find this year.

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