YouTube Network Fullscreen Slapped With Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

The National Music Publishers Association alleges that artists from some of the network's 10,000 channels illegally used songs in their videos

The National Music Publishers Association has sued Fullscreen, one of the largest networks of YouTube channels in the world, for copyright infringement, the organization announced on Tuesday. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York.

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The NMPA, the biggest trade association for music publishing, alleges that numerous artists in Fullscreen’s network of more than 10,000 channels illegally use songs in their videos, and that both the artists and Fullscreen profit from the advertisements that appear with those videos. Fullscreen declined to comment.

The proliferation of unlicensed content on YouTube has long angered the entertainment industry, which is one of the reasons both Fullscreen and Maker Studios have made deals with the Universal Music Publishing Group to sample their songs or use them in covers. That does not cover everything, however, and the NMPA is arguing that this is still a serious problem.

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“The problem of copyright infringement and unlicensed use of music is endemic to the MCN industry,” David Israelite, NMPA president and CEO, said in a statement. “Fullscreen’s success and growth as a digital business is attributable in large part to the prevalence and popularity of its unlicensed music videos. We must stop the trend of ignoring the law, profiting from someone else’s work, then asking forgiveness when caught.  It is not only unfair, it is unacceptable.”

When Israelite says MCN, he is referring to multi-channel networks, the diverse group of companies that have built businesses on the backs of YouTube, distributing videos, selling advertisements, producing programming and managing careers for the video site’s biggest stars. The NMPA says MCNS are “comprised largely of cover song videos” and it has focused on Fullscreen because of it size.

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Fullscreen is the second largest network in the United States after music video network VEVO, and boasts several artists who have built music careers independent of cover songs, such as violinist Lindsey Stirling and singer Megan Nicole.

The NMPA and several music publishers are seeking an injunction preventing Fullscreen's artists from continuing the alleged infringement and damages for past infringements.

The association has already reached a deal with Maker Studios, the third largest MCN.