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‘X’ Denies Music Companies’ Remaining Piracy Liability Claims in Court

By , in Lawsuits Repeat Infringer twitter X , at April 10, 2024

x twitterIn a complaint filed at a Nashville federal court last spring, Universal Music, Sony Music, EMI and others, accused X Corp of “breeding” mass copyright infringement.

The social media company allegedly failed to respond adequately to takedown notices and lacks a proper termination policy.

“Twitter routinely ignores known repeat infringers and known infringements, refusing to take simple steps that are available to Twitter to stop these specific instances of infringement of which it is aware,” the complaint alleged.

Motion to Dismiss

X vehemently disagreed and filed a motion to dismiss the case, hoping to shut down the legal battle at an early stage. The attempt was partially successful; last month, the court dismissed the music companies’ direct and vicarious copyright infringement claims.

The labels’ contributory infringement claims were partially dismissed. Judge Trauger concluded that X can’t be held liable for making it very easy to upload infringing material or for monetizing pirated content. These characteristics are not exclusive to infringing material and apply to legitimate content too, she argued.

However, some elements of the contributory infringement remain intact and the lawsuit will continue on those grounds. Among other things, this includes claims that X’s repeat infringer policy was inadequate and that it willingly turned a blind eye to pirating users, especially those who have a blue checkmark.

“Particularly striking is the allegation that X Corp. enforces its copyright policies less stringently against individuals willing to pay for its ‘verified’ service,” Judge Trauger wrote in her order.

X Answers Complaint

With the case moving forward, X was required to formally answer the complaint, which it did yesterday. In a 29-page response, X denies any wrongdoing, including allegations that its repeat infringer policy is inadequate.

The music companies’ claim and the concise reply from X shown below are exemplary.

Claim: “Twitter has not adopted, reasonably implemented, nor informed subscribers or account holders of, a policy to terminate users engaging in repeated acts of copyright infringement.”

X’s Response: “Defendant denies the allegations in Paragraph 154 of the Complaint”

In response to other allegations, X notes that the music companies are quoting and paraphrasing out of context. This includes a statement from X owner Elon Musk, who previously criticized copyright law and stated that an overzealous DMCA is a “plague on humanity“.

This is how that statement was used by the music companies in their complaint.

From the complaint

musk tweet

X notes that this was taken out of context. The company doesn’t mention how, but the music companies didn’t mention that Musk was responding to a news article about a bill that would limit the copyright protection term for rightsholders including Disney.

“Defendant admits that Plaintiffs purport to characterize, paraphrase and quote, selectively and out of context, a post by Elon Musk, and that the content of any such post, considered fully and in context, would speak for itself. Defendant otherwise denies the allegations in Paragraph 182 of the Complaint,” X writes in its answer.

Affirmative Defenses

Aside from denying the copyright infringement allegations point-by-point, X’s formal answer to the complaint doesn’t respond in detail. This is typical for this stage of the proceeding. The answer does, however, raise a series of affirmative defenses.

For example, it counters that the remaining contributory liability claim is barred because any copyright infringement was “innocent and not willful.” In addition, X describes the requested damages, which in theory could reach $250 million, as “unconstitutionally excessive and disproportionate”.

Some of the Affirmative Defenses

affirmative defenses

X’s response to the complaint isn’t the endpoint, it kicks off the rest of the proceeding where both sides will have to argue their positions on the merits. There is a case management conference scheduled for next month, where the court will likely set a trial date.

A copy of X’s answer to the music companies’ complaint is available here (pdf)

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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