According to Variety, Freeplay Music is suing four multichannel networks (MCNs) on YouTube. These include, AwesomenessTV, Big Frame (owned by AwesomenessTV), BroadbandTV, and Disney’s Maker Studios. Freeplay, a music licensing company, claims that these channels have infringed its copyrights in the the music it licenses to consumers. The Company also alleges that the defendants refused to negotiate with Freeplay for licenses, and yet continued to use the music without the Company’s permission.
YouTube is no stranger to copyright litigation. Thus, it has developed the Content ID program, a system that allows copyright owners to assert rights to infringing material and subsequently request for the content to be removed or to collect corresponding ad revenue. In 2014, YouTube heightened its copyright policies by requiring MCNs to monitor their channels for infringement. Therefore, Freeplay claims that the defendnats failed to adequately patrol their channels.
Interestingly, this suit closely comes on the heels of another suit involving Freeplay, filed early this month. However, in that case the roles were reversed—with Freeplay on the defensive. The MCNs Machinima and Collective Digital Studio claimed that Freeplay acted as a “copyright troll”—offering its music for free, before it reneged on this offer and threatened legal action if no license agreement was signed. While Freeplay released some of its content for free, personal use on YouTube in 2013, it did not extend this privilege to MCNs—still requiring a license for these entities to use its music.
Finally, Freeplay filed its case against the four defendants in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, while Machinima and Collective Digital Studio brought their suit in the Central District of California. If the courts’ opinions differ, a deciding vote may be needed to determine ultimate liability.