Universal Music Group has filed lawsuits against online video sharing sites Grouper and Bolt.com for allowing users to swap pirated versions of its musicians' videos. According to a statement, Universal, with artists including U2, Mary J. Blige and Mariah Carey, said it is seeking damages of as much as $150,000 for each incident of copyright infringement, plus costs. It estimated that thousands of music videos were being viewed on both sites. The lawsuits were filed in U.S. District Court, Central District of California, Western Division.
Bolt's chief executive maintains the site removes copyrighted material as soon as it is notified and hopes to reach a licensing agreement with Universal Music. According to the statement, Grouper officials were not immediately available for comment. The lawsuits accuse Grouper Network Inc., which Sony Pictures Entertainment agreed to buy in August, and privately held Bolt.com of actively participating in the infringement by copying, reformatting, distributing, and creating derivative works from Universal's musicians. The lawsuits also made clear that Universal, which is owned by French media company Vivendi, will retain the right to add Sony Pictures, a unit of Sony Corp. to the suit going forward. They charge both Grouper and Bolt.com with "mass infringement" of Universal's copyright.
(www.umusic.com; www.bolt.com; www.grouper.com)