Universal Music Group Sues Video Sites

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Universal Music Group is suing two video Web site operators, claiming they violated copyright laws by allowing users to share music clips and other licensed content without permission.

Universal, the world's largest recording company, filed separate lawsuits Monday in U.S. District Court against Grouper Networks Inc., operator of Grouper.com, and Bolt Inc., which runs Bolt.com.

Video sites have become wildly popular in the past few years, drawing millions of visitors who often find clips from movies and music videos along with homemade footage from users.

Universal Music recently signed a content licensing agreement with YouTube Inc., one of the most popular video-sharing sites. But it has no deals with Grouper or Bolt.

Universal Music is seeking unspecified damages derived from any profits by the defendants, or $150,000 per copyrighted work that was allegedly distributed on the sites without permission.

New York-based Bolt had no immediate comment on the litigation. A call seeking comment by Sausalito, Calif.-based Grouper was not immediately returned.

In August, Sony Pictures Entertainment acquired Grouper for $65 million. Universal Music has reserved the option of adding the film studio as a defendant.

In the litigation, the record company claimed Grouper and Bolt actively play a role in violating copyright laws by "copying, reformatting, distributing and creating" works derived from music videos and songs owned by Universal Music.

In one example cited in the Grouper lawsuit, a search turned up several Mariah Carey videos that could be viewed and downloaded. A video for her song "Shake It Off," had been viewed more than 50,000 times, the lawsuit said.

A similar search on Bolt.com generated a list of clips featuring Mary J. Blige, including the video for "Enough Cryin," which had been viewed more than 1,000 times, the lawsuit said.
  • Alfonso Serrano

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