In a discordant legal development, Epidemic Sound, the Sweden-based music provider celebrated by thousands of content creators, has initiated legal proceedings against Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram. The lawsuit, filed in a California district court, alleges rampant copyright infringement on an unprecedented scale, accusing Meta of utilizing Epidemic Sound’s extensive library without proper licensing, authorization, or compensation.
Epidemic Sound: A Symphony for Creators
Epidemic Sound, founded in 2009, has been a go-to resource for content creators seeking royalty-free music to enhance their videos on platforms like YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram. With a library boasting over 35,000 music soundtracks and 90,000 sound effects, Epidemic Sound offers a subscription-based licensing model, allowing creators to use their music for a monthly fee as low as 9 euros. This model has not only empowered individual content creators but has also provided a solution for commercial users, including businesses and enterprises.
Meta’s Alleged Symphony of Copyright Infringement
Alleged Numbers Speak Volumes
Epidemic Sound’s legal action highlights the sheer scale of the alleged infringement. The complaint states that approximately 50,000 infringing videos and 30,000 new uploads containing Epidemic’s music are posted on Facebook and Instagram daily. Epidemic Sound estimates that a staggering 94% of content using its music on Meta’s platforms is unlicensed, emphasizing the widespread nature of the copyright infringement.
Meta’s Alleged Creation of an Unlicensed Music Library
One of the more serious allegations revolves around Meta’s purported creation of a curated library of music, organized by genre, using Epidemic Sound’s content. This library is alleged to be available to Facebook and Instagram users for downloading, streaming, and incorporating into user-generated video content and posts. Epidemic Sound asserts that Meta’s use of its music is not only unauthorized but is conducted without obtaining the required licenses, directly infringing on Epidemic’s copyrights.
Features Facilitating Infringement: Original Audio and Reels Remix
Epidemic Sound’s complaint specifically calls out two Instagram features, Original Audio and Reels Remix, as tools that contribute to the alleged copyright infringement. Original Audio presumes ownership of content not detected in Instagram’s audio library, allowing users to ‘rip’ music from Reels and incorporate it into their own content. Reels Remix enables users to take another user’s audiovisual content, including music, and integrate it into their own Reel. Epidemic Sound contends that these features not only encourage but actively contribute to “exponential infringement.”
Meta’s Refusal to Grant Rights Manager Access
In a noteworthy claim, Epidemic Sound asserts that Meta, despite allowing access to Rights Manager for video content, has consistently refused access for audio content management. The complaint argues that Meta’s refusal to provide access to its rights management tool for music content has contributed to the rampant infringement of Epidemic’s music on its platforms.
Seeking Justice: Damages and Injunction
Epidemic Sound is seeking justice through its legal action, demanding maximum statutory damages of $150,000 per work for willful direct and contributory copyright infringement. The complaint specifies a minimum of $142 million in damages. Additionally, Epidemic Sound is seeking a permanent injunction against Meta to cease the alleged copyright infringement.
A Legal Crescendo with Far-reaching Implications
As the legal battle between Epidemic Sound and Meta unfolds, the outcome could have far-reaching implications for the relationship between content creators, music providers, and social media platforms. The lawsuit underscores the importance of respecting intellectual property rights in the digital age and serves as a reminder that even the giants of the tech industry are not immune to legal discord when it comes to copyright infringement. The legal symphony between Epidemic Sound and Meta is poised to shape the future dynamics of content creation and the use of music on social media platforms.