Myspace Founder Hit With $6.6M Lyric Site Copyright Damage Award

By Joseph Mandour on October 11, 2012

music-headphones Los Angeles – A California federal judge handed down a $6.6 million default judgment Tuesday in three music publishers’ copyright infringement case accusing one of MySpace’s founders of posting lyrics to hundreds of copyrighted songs on his websites without properly licensing them.

Warner Chappell Music Inc. Peermusic and Bug Music Inc. already won a ruling in the case that Brad Greenspan’s infringement was willful, as well as an injunction shutting down the websites displaying the allegedly infringing lyrics. The companies had sought $100,000 in damages per song, where the statutory maximum was $150,000.

Judge George H. Wu instead awarded them $12,500 for each of the 528 songs found to be infringed, as well as their costs and attorneys’ fees. The court did not intend to set the statutory damages in an amount based simply on the loss of licensing revenues, he said. He also made the previously issued injunction permanent.

“The case is the first to establish copyright infringement liability for displaying song lyrics on a website without a license from the song’s copyright owner,” the publishers’ law firm Arent Fox LLP said in a statement Thursday.

The songs whose lyrics were posted to the sites without appropriate licenses include David Bowie’s “China Girl,” TLC’s “(Don’t Go Chasing) Waterfalls,” Green Day’s “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” Van Morrison’s “Moondance,” Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock And Roll” and Ray Charles’ “Georgia On My Mind,” in addition to hundreds of others.

“One of the principal purposes of our lawsuit was to obtain a large statutory damage award which would serve as a warning to persuade illegal lyric site operators that it makes good business sense to become licensed and avoid having their site shut down and damages awarded against them,” publishers’ attorney Ross Charap said.

After selling his stake in MySpace to News Corp. for $60 million, Greenspan immediately tried to challenge the deal on the grounds that the company was undervalued. He then launched a number of social media ventures through his company LiveUniverse Inc., none of which took off. The company was also named in the publishers’ lawsuit.

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