YouTube lawsuit: Pharrell's representative threatens to sue for $1 billion over video rights

Music business behemoth Irving Azoff has demanded that YouTube removal 20,000 videos or face legal action

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The Independent Culture

YouTube could face a $1 billion lawsuit from the representative of Pharrell Williams and dozens of other music superstars unless it removes around 20,000 videos.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, influential music manager Irving Azoff, speaking on behalf of the illustrious clientele of new legal group Global Music Rights, has claimed that YouTube does not have performance rights for thousands of songs — and that lack of a licence could be the foundation of a 10 figure lawsuit.

This is the sort of action GMR was designed for; it calls itself "an alternative to current performance licensing models" and lists copyright advocacy as one of its key services.

The group represents major music figures Pharrell Williams, The Eagles and Chris Cornell, and also owns the rights to the catalogue of John Lennon.


Irving Azoff took to Twitter to criticise YouTube, claiming the video website "knows it lacks any license from GMR".

Google, which owns YouTube, and has plans to launch a subscription music service called Music Key, has rejected GMR's claims and said it does have the rights.

Its lawyer David Kramer accused GMR of attempting to "circumvent" the notice and takedown process for reporting URLs which host unlicensed material.

This solution, however, GMR claims is unfeasible due to the sheer number of infringing videos and the likelihood that new ones will appear.

GMR's lawyer told THR: "It is disingenuous that they can keep their hands over eyes until we tell them the URL.

"They know where it is. We don't want this to become whack-a-mole."