Twitter sued by music publishers, Meta and Microsoft join forces, SEC sued over Facebook, OpenAI ❤️s YouTube, Content ID survives lawsuit, and more!
This is Creator Economy Law, a newsletter dedicated to exploring and analyzing the legal issues surrounding the creator economy, creators, and internet platforms. If you enjoy what you’re reading, share with friends, and invite them to subscribe using the button above and share using #CreatorEconomyLaw.
The Reuters Institute for the Future of Journalism released an insightful new report, Digital News Report 2023, that explores digital news consumption based on a YouGov survey of over 93,000 online news consumers in 46 markets covering half of the world’s population. The report documents how video-based content, distributed via networks such as TikTok, Instagram and YouTube are becoming more important for news, especially in parts of the Global South, while legacy platforms such as Facebook are losing influence. Check it out.
Oh, there’s also AI Jesus over on Twitch if you’d rather just take information from a synthetically divine being. If it’s offline, you can watch the clips.
Here’s what’s been happening in the world of creator economy law.
Content ID Copyright Lawsuit Dismissed after Three Years
It’s over! The Content ID lawsuit against YouTube brought by composer Maria Schneider is dismissed, with prejudice, the weekend before the start of the trial.
If you recall, the lawsuit was filed in 2020 and focused on the lack of broader access to copyright management tools, such as Content ID, for independent musicians and creators. Maria Schneider and others filed the class action against YouTube and Google in an attempt to claim the current system supports piracy, while boosting profits for YouTube, and can’t handle repeat infringers.
Last month, I covered the denial by the court to certify a class, which led to a re-assessment of the scope of the trial by the parties. It seems over the last few weeks, there were numerous exchanges and ideas from both sides about what should and shouldn’t remain as the trial loomed.
An attempt to dismiss some of those claims without prejudice on Saturday would have allowed any dismissed claims to proceed at a later date if chosen. However, it seems that changed, too.
In the latest dismissal (attached) filed on Sunday, the claims are dismissed with prejudice, meaning it’s the end of the road for this matter after three years of litigation.
The case is Schneider v. YouTube, LLC (3:20-cv-04423), District Court, N.D. CA. Review the full docket on CourtListener.
Twitter sued by music publishers
Twitter is getting sued by pretty much every major music publisher for copyright infringement, with the charge being led by the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), which is a trade association that represents the publishing companies.
Shocking to no one, paying licensing fees for music compositions (one of two copyrights needed for music on platforms) is allegedly not a priority. The New York Times reported back in March that negotiations had stalled.
Oh, but it gets better…
If you have been following Elon, you’ll recall he referred to the “overzealous” DMCA as a “plague on humanity” 🙃 Naturally, that tweet would get included as a screenshot in the complaint! What’s amazing is that, as of this posting, the tweet remains up on Elon’s timeline.
I was personally waiting for this one to pop up! I specifically remember it was tweeted around the time the GOP was putting out pointless legislation that aimed to decrease copyright terms in an anti-Disney, anti-woke effort. That same legislation made its way back around in 2023.
The first claim is for direct copyright infringement.
The second claim is for contributory copyright infringement, meaning that Twitter knew about the content and continued to host it.
The third claim is for vicarious infringement, meaning Twitter had the ability to control the infringement and benefited from it (hello ads).
The publishers also note that they’ve been sending notices to Twitter about infringing content and also repeat infringer accounts (which is specifically mentioned in the DMCA as a platform’s obligation to address and shut down those accounts).
The music publishers are seeking:
1. A declaration that Twitter willfully infringed the compositions
Note: under copyright law, willful infringement means they get higher statutory damages — that $150k per infringed work number that’s making headlines.
2. If they can’t get the $150k per work awarded as damages, then they want actual damages (perhaps the lost licensing revenue and more) and Twitter’s profits from the infringement (which is going to be a nightmare to calculate, but would be fun to see!)
3. Equitable relief – meaning that the court orders Twitter and all those involved to stop infringing.
4. Attorneys fees and costs (normal)
5. Interest on any damages awarded (normal)
The case is Concord Music Group, Inc. v. X Corp (3:23-cv-00606), District Court, M.D. TN. Access the docket and complaint over at CourtListener.
Recall that Twitter was hit with a DMCA repeat infringer notice back in December 2022. The latest update on that case is that Twitter filed a motion to dismiss in May 2023.
Twitter is quickly becoming a prime case study, and practical example of risk, for in-house IP teams As Andrew Coffman noted, this “looks more like the mid-aughts YouTube litigation than the kind of disputes that are currently being litigated today.”
SEC sued over FOIA delays for Zuckerberg’s full transcript
A complaint has been filed against the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission alleging the agency violated the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by failing to release unredacted transcripts of 2019 interviews with Mark Zuckerberg in his capacity as CEO of Facebook (now Meta).
If you recall, the deposition took place in 2019 following the Cambridge Analytica scandal involving the release of data to third-party app developers. Facebook was hit with a $100 million fine by the SEC related to misleading investors about the severity of the issue.
The complaint alleges that since beginning requests for a full release of materials in November 2021, the SEC failed to ever comply with the FOIA request and follow-up requests. The SEC cited personal privacy exceptions under FOIA.
The complaint identifies a series of back and forth, delays, partial releases, and appeals. Activist Zamaan Qureshi is the plaintiff and is working with Public Citizen for legal representation.
The case is Qureshi v. Securities and Exchange Commission (1:23-cv-01710), District Court, District of Columbia. Access the docket over on CourtListener.
Partnership on AI Adds Meta and Microsoft
Partnership on AI’s (PAI) Responsible Practices for Synthetic Media is a framework on how to responsibly develop, create, and share synthetic media: the audiovisual content often generated or modified by AI. The first-of-its-kind Framework was launched in February by PAI and backed by an inaugural cohort of launch partners including Adobe, BBC, CBC/Radio-Canada, Bumble, OpenAI, TikTok, WITNESS, and synthetic media startups Synthesia, D-ID, and Respeecher.
And now, Meta and Microsoft are on board. 🥳
A PDF of the framework can be downloaded here.
YouTube announced major changes to its YouTube Partner Program (YPP) that opens up access to monetization tools for creators that didn’t previously meet the high thresholds set by YouTube. However, the access is limited to fan funding features like channel memberships, Super Chat, Super Thanks, Super Stickers YouTube Shopping (promoting a creator’s own products). It does not include ad revenue share. The new thresholds are: 500 subscribers, 3 public uploads in the last 90 days, and either 3000 watch hours in the past year or 3M Shorts views in the last 90 days. It is also limited to creators in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Taiwan, and South Korea. A key benefit here is that if a creator reaches the normal YPP eligibility requirements, they won’t have to go through the application process again.
YouTube also announced an expansion of partnerships with over 50 brands for YouTube Shopping with creators part of the full YPP.
Google and YouTube announced two new generative AI ad solutions: Demand Gen and Video View campaigns. “These ad solutions use relevant, immersive creatives to drive action and conversions in the moments that matter.” Demand Gen offers a platform for creating ads from a brand’s existing image and video asset library, and then takes the video and image assets and integrates them across Google and YouTube’s visual, entertainment-focused touchpoints, including YouTube, YouTube Shorts, Discover and Gmail. Can’t really tell what Video View does from this announcement, but if you know, drop it in the comments!
Don’t forget, new YPP terms must be accepted by July 10th to remain in the program. If you look under Agreements, you’ll see the contract terms. If it says “View Agreement” then you’re all set. If it says “Review and Agree” then you need to take action.
Invidious, an open-source software that prevents ads and tracking on YouTube, received a cease and desist letter from YouTube. The software can run self-hosted, or by others who made their own instances publicly accessible. Torrent Freak has more coverage.
The Information, through an unnamed ad executive source that works with government agencies, published an article claiming that U.S. federal agencies are “pulling back from advertising on TikTok.” By Sahil Patel and Erin Woo. The Wrap also covered the story.
CNN’s Brian Fung broke the news of a new bipartisan bill in the Senate that could address TikTok security concerns without a ban. The effort is led by Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden and Wyoming Republican Sen. Cynthia Lummis. Read the press release and the bill.
Meanwhile, the company launched TikTok Truths, “A new series intended to set the record straight about information we collect and how we use, share, and protect it.” See the full press release.
On June 6, Tucker Carlson posted the first episode of his show “Tucker on Twitter” on… you guessed it! Twitter. The move came after he was fired from Fox News. However, Fox has now sent a C&D letter according to a report from Axios.
Meta announced an open-source text-to-music generation AI tool called MusicGen. Audiocraft provides the code and models for MusicGen. Audiocraft is a PyTorch library for deep learning research on audio generation. According to the GitHub repo, they used “20K hours of licensed music to train MusicGen. Specifically, we rely on an internal dataset of 10K high-quality music tracks, and on the ShutterStock and Pond5 music data.”
Facebook announced a ton of updates to Reels, including some new opportunities for creators to grow their audience and earn more revenue. One interesting development is that they “reduced partnership ads eligibility requirements, so that creators on Pages can give their brand partners permission to run ads from their Facebook page. These ads also tag the brand partner, bringing more reach and scale to their collaborations.”
Meta’s new requirements for ads in EU. Due to regulatory requirements in the EU, beginning June 5, 2023, if your Facebook or Instagram ads target the EU or its associated territories listed below, or select worldwide, you’ll have the option to enter the person or organization who is benefiting from the ad (“beneficiary”). You’ll also have the option to enter who is the person or organization paying for the ad (“payer”), if that person or organization is different from the “beneficiary.”
Beginning June 21, 2023, this information will be required for all new, duplicated or edited ads targeting the EU or its associated territories. If you do not enter the information, your ad will not be published. This requirement applies to all ad creation surfaces, including the Marketing API. Read more in the full support article.
“[OpenAI] has secretly used data from [YouTube] to train some of its artificial intelligence models, said one person with direct knowledge of the effort.”
The Information’s Jon Victor published an incredible piece about the important role YouTube plays in Google’s work in the AI space. Part of the piece claims that OpenAI used content from YouTube to train its models.
Will Google seek to protect YouTube, a publicly accessible site, against data scraping as Microsoft’s LinkedIn did against HiQ? 🤔 It’s going to be interesting to see how big tech companies defend the content platforms they own against data and content scraping by competitor third parties when in reality those big tech companies are allegedly (and in some cases admittedly) doing the same activities to build their own generative AI tools.
Reuters is reporting that Getty Images has filed documents with London’s High Court seeking an injunction against Stability AI from selling its system in Britain following Stability AI’s use of images scraped from Getty to train its generative AI system.
MIT Task Force on Responsible Use of Generative AI for Law published an initial public draft of principles and guidelines for generative AI. Check out the website.
A proposed generative AI disclosures act in the U.S. has some flaws, as I point out in my recent blog post.
No Section 230 for You! U.S. Senators Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) announced the release of proposed draft legislation dubbed “No Section 230 Immunity for AI Act.” Read the bill. Axios provides detailed coverage.
Reuters is reporting that, internally, Google is limiting the use of generative AI tools by employees over concerns about information security. The report even notes this includes its own tools, such as Google Bard.
The EU AI Act is nearing a final form as the European Parliament adopted – by an overwhelming majority – the latest version. Haven’t been following along, or not as closely as you’d like? Then check out this article that gives a great overview of key aspects to understand as the AI Act moves into the next phase of the legislative process.
State AGs on AI. 23 state attorneys general joined together this week with a joint letter that urges “the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to advance artificial intelligence governance policies that prioritize robust transparency, reliable testing and assessment requirements, and allow for government oversight and enforcement for high-risk uses.” Download a copy of the letter.
The Federal Trade Commission released a new blog post that expands on the recent complaints against Amazon and Ring by providing some practical takeaways when it comes to AI technologies, including natural language processing, and the collection, storage, and use of biometric data. Here’s what the FTC is reminding businesses.
Apple is reportedly cracking down on the decentralized social media platform Damus after the iOS app launched a feature that allowed user-to-user tipping with Bitcoin. Apple doesn’t allow the use of cryptocurrency wallets for in-app purchases, which includes creator tips. The main issue is Apple’s apparent view that the tipping feature is an in-app purchase or transaction of digital content, triggering the requirement (Section 3.1.1. of the App Store Review Guidelines) that Apple’s in-app purchase mechanisms are used (and its 30% cut rule). Damus shared screenshots of the communications it received from Apple and the notice that its app would be removed in 14 days if the feature doesn’t comply with App Store guidelines.
I shared thoughts on the Reddit blackout and the larger conversation about interoperability within the creator economy in last week’s issue. But, if you still aren’t up to speed on what’s happening over at Reddit, check out Vox’s great rundown. The blackout is also having an impact on Google search results, which often rely heavily on Reddit content.
flavrs is a content platform focused solely on food content from creators. The company just launched its Creator Equity Fund which provides creators with equity in the company and platform, what they are highlighting as the first-of-its-kind program. Check out the article from The Information (subscription required).
Cardi B is able to recover $350,000 she spent in legal fees defending a mixtape cover that featured a model’s tattoo photoshopped onto another model. Yeah, it was a crazy lawsuit.
Spotify is facing a $5.4 million fine for violations of GDPR, specifically stemming from a complaint filed in 2019 that the company didn’t comply with data requests from customers or detail the processing of such data. Engadget’s Kris Holt has the full story.
Controversial British influencer Andrew Tate has been served with legal papers by lawyers representing four of his alleged victims who have accused him of rape and sexual assault, as reported by The Guardian.
Speaking of controversy… and Tucker Carlson again. Daily Caller, co-founded by Tucker Carlson, is being sued for copyright infringement for posting a video to its Facebook page without permission. The video is of a Florida man standing outside holding a Trump flag as Hurricane Ian made landfall. Videographer Reed Timmer filmed the video and timely registered it with the Copyright Office. Check out the great rundown of the case from Robert Freund!
Texas joins Utah and Louisiana. Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill on Tuesday that aims to restrict access to social media platforms, and in some cases entire swaths of the internet, by verifying the user’s age. See the updates and the bill.
Interested in learning more about the Copyright Claims Board? Check out this podcast episode from IP Goes Pop! that features an interview with Brittany Lamb and John Riley from the U.S. Copyright Office. You can also read the recap over on IPWatchdog.
I’m throwing back this week to some classic Daft Punk! The One More Time music video is actually part of the Interstella 5555 film that is a companion to the Discovery album. It’s been ages since I’ve watched it, so I’m now on the hunt for a copy.
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