Internet Archive, the free online database that preserves media from across various decades, is being sued by a number of prominent record labels.
Sony, Universal Music Group, and Capitol Records are among the plaintiffs in a new copyright lawsuit against the Internet Archive and its founder Brewster Kahle. The lawsuit specifically concerns the Archive’s “Great 78 Project,” which preserves and provides access to works from artists like Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong that were recorded before 1972.
In the suit filed on Friday, August 11th, the plaintiffs claim that by “transferring copies of those files to members of the public, Internet Archive has reproduced and distributed without authorization Plaintiffs’ protected sound recordings.”
The group of plaintiffs also includes Concord Bicycle Assets, CMGI Recorded Music Assets, and Arista Music. Together, the record companies and various organisations have claimed that Internet Archive has essentially pirated the copyrighted works and distributed them “millions of times” since the project began.
Best known for preserving nearly every extant live concert by the Grateful Dead, Internet Archive has also provided free access to live music from a variety of artists including The Smashing Pumpkins, Billy Strings, and Ween, among many others. The Archive is predominantly used to preserve radio broadcasts, podcasts, and other forms of media.
“Defendants attempt to defend their wholesale theft of generations of music under the guise of ‘preservation and research,’ but this is a smokescreen: their activities far exceed those limited purposes,” the claim reads. “Internet Archive unabashedly seeks to provide free and unlimited access to music for everyone, regardless of copyright.”
The Internet Archive has yet to issue an official statement regarding the lawsuit.