| 25 Jun 2024
Universal Music files copyright lawsuit against mix-tapes being sent to US prisoners

MUMBAI: Universal Music is taking to task companies that provide mix-tapes that are given to prison inmates. These packages are alleged to contain illegal copies of music that are being sold without permission for less than market price, as first reported by The Hollywood Reporter (THR). These mix-tapes are said to contain music by artistes like James Brown, Eminem, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder.

According to the lawsuit, "Defendants boast on their website that their business 'was developed to eliminate contraband’, yet the infringing copies of Plaintiffs’ sound recordings and musical compositions, in which Defendants unlawfully transact and from which they unjustly profit, are contraband personified."

The complaint further stated that, "Mix-tapes are a form of recorded music in which DJs combine (or 'mix') tracks, often recorded by different artists, onto a single CD, sometimes creating overlaps and fades between songs, and/or reflecting a common theme or mood. Such so-called 'mix-tapes,' unless authorised by the copyright owner or owner of corresponding state law rights, are nothing more than collections of infringing, piratical compilations of copyrighted or otherwise legally protected sound recordings and copyrighted musical composition."

A group of companies’ viz., Centric Group, and Keefe Group have been sued. The complaint further said that the defendants are alleged not to be in that authorised category, and that they are infringing the copyrights of Universal's records and publishing divisions as a "door opener to solicit customers."

Universal Music is demanding maximum statutory damages in the amount of $150,000 to each copyrighted work infringed.