| 20 Jul 2024
Pharrell Williams' management agency sues YouTube for copyright infringement

MUMBAI: Video-streaming giant YouTube could face a heavy lawsuit from the management agency of Pharrell Williams, The Eagles, Chris Cornell and other music artistes, unless it agrees to remove around 20,000 videos from YouTube.

Powerful music artiste manager Irving Azoff has issued a lawsuit on behalf of the new legal group Global Music Rights (GMR), as per The Hollywood Reporter (THR). In the lawsuit, Azoff has claimed that YouTube does not have performance rights for thousands of songs - and that lack of a licence could be the foundation of an expensive lawsuit. It does not come as a surprise that the lawsuit is filed by GMR, because calls itself “an alternative to current performance licensing models” and has listed copyright advocacy as one of its primary services.

To this Google has responded by stating that it does have the rights, this raises a strong speculation that, this ongoing fuel between the most powerful person in the music industry (Azoff) and the world's most popular video streaming website (YouTube) might result in a full blown music industry war. Its lawyer David Kramer accused GMR of attempting to “circumvent” the notice issued and take down the process for reporting URLs which host unlicensed material.

However, GMR claims that this solution is unfeasible due to the sheer number of infringing videos and the strong likelihood that new ones will appear.
GMR's lawyer told THR, “It is disingenuous that they can keep their hands over eyes until we tell them the URL. They know where it is. We do not want this to become whack-a-mole."

The timing of this threat of a lawsuit against YouTube is also an interesting one. The threat comes at a time where there is a broader debate going on about the rights of musicians in an era of easy digital access to music. In December, Consequence of Sound reported that Williams' megahit, 'Happy,' had earned only $2,700 from 43 million plays on Pandora, another music streaming website.

Letter to David Kramer