Universal Music Launches Lawsuit Against Companies Distributing Mixtapes To Prisoners
Universal Music filed a complaint with the US district court in California against companies advertising and distributing care packages to prisoners that include unauthorized mixtapes of their artists in 40 different states. The lawsuit states, “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."
“Defendants have unlawfully, and without authority from Plaintiffs, reproduced, distributed and prepared derivative works based on Plaintiffs’ sound recordings and musical compositions. Defendants sell pirate copies of Plaintiffs’ copyrighted and otherwise protected works through physical catalogs and a website.”
While some companies do have authorization to distribute music, those named in Universal's compaint are not. Universal said, prior to filing the lawsuit, they had attempted to reach out to the companies directly, but that their requests to cease infringement had been brushed off as a nuisance.
James Brown, Eminem, Tupac, LL Cool J, Nas, Mary J Blige, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder are just a random sampling of Universal artists impacted by the unauthorized distribution of music to prisoners. The Guardian reports, "Universal is demanding statutory damages of $150,000 for each copyrighted work infringed, or an award of the defendants’ profits, plus restitution of unlawful proceeds, punitive and exemplary damages, and an injunction to stop further infringements."