Universal goes against another video sharing site

Posted by Mark Raby

Santa Monica (CA) - In a bid to expand its position on copyright infringement, Universal Music Group announced today that it has filed a lawsuit against Grouper and Bolt.com for allowing users to post videos to which Universal owns the copyrights.

The suit, which were filed late Monday, accuses Grouper, owned by Sony Pictures, and Bolt.com of "mass infringement" of Universal's copyright. "Through its use and exploitation of copyrighted material [...] Grouper has become one of the most prominent and valuable Web sites on the Internet," Universal said in the lawsuit.

Universal is seeking damages of as much as $150,000 for each infringement on both sites. As one of the most active companies in this area of litigation, it is trying to send a message to all video sharing sites. A Universal spokesman said the two sites "cannot reasonably expect to build their business on the backs of our content and the hard work of our artists and songwriters without permission and without compensating the content creators."

Last month, Universal announced possible intentions to sue YouTube and MySpace for the same reason. Since then, it announced a licensing deal with YouTube that allows for users to use music under the Universal label in their videos. Universal has not yet brought litigation against MySpace.

Grouper and Bolt.com both fall well short of the audience of other video sharing sites like Google Video and YouTube. According to Comscore Media Metrics data, Bolt.com had 8.1 million unique visitors in August, with Grouper catching only 1.8 million viewers. In the same month, YouTube had 72.1 million unique visitors.