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Meta criticises Epidemic’s copyright lawsuit over “vague assertions and glaring omissions”

By | Published on Wednesday 28 September 2022

Epidemic Sound

Meta has told a US court that a lawsuit filed against it by production music firm Epidemic Sound has so many “vague assertions and glaring omissions” in it that it has been “left to try to guess” what it’s actually being accused of. With that in mind, the Facebook and Instagram owner would quite like said lawsuit to be dismissed.

Epidemic Sound, of course, is a production music business best known for providing music to online creators, although its client base is now much wider than that. It operates entirely outside the collective licensing system, meaning the musicians it works with aren’t members of any collecting societies.

That means that Epidemic directly controls – and therefore can license – all elements of both the recording rights and the song rights within the music contained its library. So when creators license music from Epidemic, they can post videos containing that music to different user-upload and social media platforms safe in the knowledge that no music company is going to pop up and try to block the content or claim any ad monies the video has generated.

Although, of course, if a creator uses music from the Epidemic library without licence, it’s the production music company itself that pops up seeking to block those videos. Except, Epidemic said in the lawsuit it filed in July, it’s not able to effectively manage the unlicensed use of its music on Facebook and Instagram in that way because Meta won’t grant it full access to its rights management tools.

“Meta has deliberately prevented Epidemic from being able to protect its catalogue from infringement across Meta’s platforms”, the lawsuit stated. “Meta offers rightsholders certain rights management tools designed to enable copyright owners to identify, protect and derive value from their works. Meta has repeatedly refused Epidemic access to the rights management tool for music content, without a legitimate explanation”.

But that was only one of the grievances set out in the Epidemic litigation. The production music firm also said that it had found its tracks being made available in the clips libraries on Facebook and Instagram, from which users can grab music to include in their videos.

“By including Epidemic’s tracks in its music library without authorisation”, the lawsuit said, “Meta is actively offering Epidemic’s tracks for download, streaming, user synchronisation, reproduction and distribution to its (unlicensed) users without a proper licence or any other authorisation from Epidemic”.

Elsewhere the legal filing added: “Epidemic knows of over 950 of its music tracks that have been reproduced, stored, made available to, and distributed to its users by Meta through its music library or through its other content sharing tools without a licence. Epidemic is confident that further research would reveal additional infringements”.

But in its formal response to the lawsuit, Meta says that Epidemic has not provided any details about where its music is appearing on the Facebook and Instagram platforms, and without that information Meta’s lawyers can’t really respond in any meaningful way to the copyright infringement claims.

According to Billboard, in a motion to dismiss Meta says: “For all its bluster, Epidemic has failed to identify even a single allegedly infringing copy of any of its works on Meta’s platforms”. Its claims of copyright infringement, the social media giant therefore reckons, are based on some unknown content somewhere within the “vast universe” of Facebook and Instagram.

Adding that “the lack of specificity in Epidemic’s complaint is striking”, Meta goes on: “Such vague assertions and glaring omissions keep Meta in the dark and make it unreasonable and impractical (not to mention unfair) to require Meta to frame a responsive pleading”.

We await to see Epidemic’s response to Meta’s response.