Pharrell Williams' lawyer threatens YouTube with a mega lawsuit

Dec 23, 2014 at 12:43 p.m. ET
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YouTube has been told to remove more than 20,000 songs, or face a $1 billion lawsuit.

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Irving Azoff, a music industry honcho and founder of the licensing management firm Global Music Rights, which manages more than 40 artists, including the Eagles and Pharrell Williams, is claiming that YouTube does not have the performance rights to about 20,000 songs from the artists he represents.

However, Google, which owns the video-sharing website, does not appear to be concerned with the request to remove the songs, and it has failed to respond to GMR's request.

In a letter published on The Hollywood Reporter, a lawyer for GMR, Howard King, wrote a letter to YouTube requesting documentation that it did, in fact, have the licensing rights for the songs in question.

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The letter reads, "Without providing a shred of documentation, you blithely proffer that YouTube can ignore the Notices because it operates under blanket licenses from performing rights organizations other than Global. However, you refuse to provide the details of any such license agreements, presumably because no such agreements exist for YouTube's present uses of the Songs in any service, but certainly with respect to its recently added Music Key service."

Earlier this month, a lawyer for Google, David Kramer, responded to the letter with one of his own, which explained that GMR had a "misguided" legal position. "This is now your third attempt to circumvent the straightforward DMCA notice-and-takedown process that Congress devised to handle situations like this," Kramer wrote.

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Neither side is backing down, and it remains unseen who will be victorious in this billion-dollar fight.