Christina Aguilera Manager Threatens ‘YouTube’ With $1 Billion Lawsuit

Published: Monday 29th Dec 2014 by David


Through the new organisation ‘Global Music Rights’, Irving Azoff– the manager behind the careers of Pharrell Williams, Gwen Stefani and Christina Aguilera– has threatened to file $1 billion lawsuit against the video sharing site YouTube.

Who, what, where and why?

Litigious drama below…

After welcoming Williams to ‘GMR’ earlier this year, Azoff has now set his sights on ‘YouTube’, who he claims do not own the performance rights for 20,000 songs whose performance rights he manages.

‘The Hollywood Reporter’ explains:

Azoff has informed YouTube that it lacks performance rights for these 20,000 songs — including ones by Smokey Robinson, Chris Cornell, and George and Ira Gershwin. Since November, when YouTube announced the coming launch of a subscription service to compete with Spotify and Pandora, Azoff has kept up the pressure to license, but Google isn’t backing down.


That’s quite upsetting to Azoff, who is prepared to launch an all-out legal war if negotiations don’t prove fruitful and if YouTube refuses to remove the works. Why YouTube and not, say, Spotify? “Because they are the ones that have been least cooperative and the company our clients feel are the worst offenders,” Azoff tells The Hollywood Reporter.  “It’s also their attitude.”

The dance, whether this be a tango or waltz, is more than a basic two-step.

For example, maybe YouTube actually has rights to perform these 20,000 songs. PROs likeASCAP and BMI often issue multiyear licenses, and just because a songwriter withdraws in the middle of a licensing term doesn’t mean that the licensee loses rights until the expiration of the term. But neither YouTube nor ASCAP are letting Don Henley, Pharrell Williams and their reps know the situation, according to GMR attorney Howard King.

In a letter sent earlier this month to YouTube, King writes, “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.”

Proving rights would hardly end this dance.

Although YouTube has enacted anti-piracy measures since the video site’s early days a decade ago, some things haven’t changed much at all: Copyright holders insist that it’s Google’s responsibility to get a license while Google responds that the onus is upon rights-holders to tell it what specifically to remove. In other words, is the use of copyrighted works online opt-in or opt-out?

On Dec. 4, Google lawyer David Kramer responded to King’s letter with one of his own attacking 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,” writes Kramer, a partner at Wilson Sonsini

According to Kramer’s letter, GMR must not only submit a statement under penalty of perjury that it is authorized to act on behalf of the owner, and not only identify the works at issue, but also identify URLs where infringing material resides. That would mean sending lots of takedown notices over some 20,000 songs being used in probably hundreds of thousands of videos.

“It is disingenuous that they can keep their hands over eyes until we tell them the URL,” King tells THR. “They know where it is. We don’t want this to become whack-a-mole.”

King points to ContentID, YouTube’s digital fingerprinting technology that advertises itselfas a system by which copyright holders can “easily identify and manage their content on YouTube,” a system where “copyright owners get to decide what happens when content in a video on YouTube matches a work they own.”

ContentID has paid out more than a billion dollars since inception, but is it purely a monetization tool or can it be used by songwriters like Pharrell Williams to remove unlicensed material? King believes that YouTube has been holding ContentID out to be the latter — which he says means that YouTube “can find sound recording by The Eagles and program it [to remove them] in a millisecond.”

In the absence of doing so, King asserts that YouTube loses its safe harbor under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act because it has actual knowledge of infringing activities, or at least, awareness of facts or circumstances where infringing activity is apparent. YouTube disputes this position — it previously went several rounds with Viacom over the matter, and so-called “red flag awareness” will also be addressed again soon by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.

In the meantime, both sides will continue their posture until someone decides to end the pre-litigation dance.

“This will result in someone blinking, and if it is not them, there will be a billion-dollar copyright infringement lawsuit filed,” says King, still hopeful that it won’t end up in court, but warning that YouTube’s “music service will be adversely impacted if they let this go to adjudication. It seems silly that they would let this be the test case.”



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  1. Britney Stan December 29, 2014

    Death at this no life having d*** Rosie being a top commenter.

  2. Mark111 December 29, 2014

    Fine, take your clients off youtube and see what happens.

  3. I’m Booked December 29, 2014


  4. Mimi4Eva December 29, 2014

    a trying hard has-been…. 🙁

  5. Godney S December 29, 2014

    Floptina…please retire.

    • bella December 29, 2014

      This is not about Aguilera. Grow up. I hate seeing immature stans on here shading other artists and don’t worry I said this to other stans too. Why fans feel the need to dedicate their time and energy to insulting others instead of celebrating their own I will never understand. Its just sad.

  6. Kitty Puurrzz December 29, 2014

    QUEEN OF vocals

  7. truth (icki is on the radio cryn cause THEPINKSHIT Flippidy flipidy FLOP!!! December 29, 2014

    Honey no one is checkn for this ho… by the way..I dont mean to interupt this post but Honey all that matters in life right is the ‘kii’ of nicki not selln 200k after all and only 4500 ACROSS THE GLOBE! * steps down from soap box and twists of post…PROUD!’*

    • BeyxMaraj December 29, 2014

      Loooool, you’re pressed hoee, stay clinging to those sales while IRS collects Kim’s ass to jail.

      • truth (icki is on the radio cryn cause THEPINKSHIT Flippidy flipidy FLOP!!! December 29, 2014

        😀 honey icki sells FLOP is the gift that keeps on giving chile!! Yaaaassss!!! 😀

  8. Casual-T December 29, 2014

    This pigeon flew the coop a long time ago. On an individual case basis, you can request that channels posting unauthorized videos take them down, and youtube always complies, but what is being sought here is logistically impossible.

  9. GILBERTO December 29, 2014

    He’s definitely reaching. Try other gimmick to get funds to promote Xtinctina’s up-coming-unwanted album.

    “Azoff has informed YouTube that it lacks performance rights for these 20,000 songs — including ones by Smokey Robinson, Chris Cornell, and George and Ira Gershwin”
    Who are these people?

    Google should remove their crap from their database and call it a day. Nobody is going to miss ya.

  10. QueenG December 29, 2014

    Your name is gilberto!?!?! Thats not even a word haha

  11. Tali F. December 30, 2014

    Well I think there is a much bigger picture here. Google does take down videos–however, they tend to go after the much smaller acts that make up the majority of their channel, than their top acts that bring in majority of their income.

    The views the avg person may what five? Bigger acts like Michelle Phan, Zoella, Destorm and more bring in 100K-3 mil + in views a video. These are the people that Google let’s slip by.

    The issue is not ‘how do we keep people from uploading illegal music’…the issue is, why is Google being lazy and not going through the necessary protocol to license out the music through the artists.

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