Twitter sued to the tune of $250m over music copyright

15 Jun 2023

Image: © MichaelVi/

Universal, Sony and Warner are some of the big names that argue Twitter ‘wilfully’ profits from copyright infringement at the expense of music creators.

A group of 17 major music publishers has sued Twitter seeking damages of up to $250m for alleged “wilful copyright infringement”.

The complainants, which includes music publishing giants such as Universal, Sony and Warner, argue in the lawsuit filed in a Nashville federal court yesterday (14 June) that Twitter “fuels its business with countless infringing copies of musical compositions” violating publishers’ rights.

“While numerous Twitter competitors recognise the need for proper licenses and agreements for the use of musical compositions on their platforms, Twitter does not, and instead breeds massive copyright infringement that harms music creators,” the lawsuit reads.

It was filed by the National Music Publishers’ Association in the US on behalf of the 17 music publishers that represent some of the biggest artists in the industry. A list of around 1,700 songs have been included in the filing that the publishers say have had their copyright violated.

The New York Times first reported on the story, and copies of the filing as well as the list of songs have been shared in an article by The Verge.

Twitter has been allowing copyright infringing content on its platform “both before and after the sale” of the company to Elon Musk, the complainants argue, and it has profited from said infringement at the expense of music creators “to whom Twitter pays nothing”.

This problem, they add, has been exacerbated by the fact that Twitter now allows users to upload longer videos as part of a broader effort to move away from the short-length text content era that it was initially intended to be. The new features are only available to Twitter Blue users.

The publishers want Twitter to pay up to $150,000 for each work which has had its copyright infringed on the platform – a total of 1,700 works – bringing the final figure to around $250m.

They argue that there is “a vibrant existing market” for social media companies to pay fees for the use of musical compositions and that the likes of TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat have already entered into agreements with publishers that compensate creators.

“Twitter’s conduct complained of herein harms these legitimate markets, thereby depriving publishers and their songwriters of hard-earned, deserved income from their creative endeavours,” the lawsuit reads.

“Publishers have no choice but to file this lawsuit to stop Twitter’s ongoing infringement of publishers’ rights and remedy the significant harm Twitter has caused, which will continue if left unremedied.”

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic