Universal Music is looking to put an end to the bootleg mixtape game, particularly music that is sent to prisoners from family members that feature copyrighted material from the label. Earlier this week, Universal Music filed a lawsuit against a number of companies, such as the The Centric Group, that sell certain "care packages" to prisoners, which family members and friends can purchase via the companies websites. The sites give options of what items can be purchased and sent to the prisoner, and range from clothes, phone privileges, food, and other perks.
For example, if you visit the Keefe Group website, you will see the various products that can be purchased, with one of them being a portable mp3 player where inmates can listen to music. This is in essence where Universal Music's lawsuit begins, as they claim that the music that is being sent to prisoners features copyrighted material from artists on the label such as Eminem, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, and more.
"Defendants boast on their website that their business 'was developed to eliminate contraband,' yet the infringing copies of Plaintiffs’ sound recordings and musical compositions, in which Defendants unlawfully transact and from which they unjustly profit, are contraband personified," claims the lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims that when a DJ creates a mixtape of their own featuring various songs from artists on the label and then sells that mixtape, they're doing so in an unlicensed and illegal way. "Such so-called 'mixtapes,' unless authorized by the copyright owner or owner of corresponding state law rights, are nothing more than collections of infringing, piratical compilations of copyrighted or otherwise legally protected sound recordings and copyrighted musical composition," states the lawsuit.
Universal Music does explain that there are some authorized distributors of these mixtapes out there, but companies like Keefe Group are not among them. For these actions, Universal Music is reportedly seeking maximum statutory damages in the case to the amount of $150,000 per each copyrighted work infringed upon. The defendants in the case have yet to respond to the claims, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
[via The Hollywood Reporter]