Major record labels have sued the Internet Archive for distributing old 78 rpm records on the grounds that they are copyrighted.
According to Reuters Some of the world's biggest record companies, including Sony and Universal Music Group, have filed a lawsuit against the Internet Archive over the Great 78 project, a community effort to preserve, research and discover 78-rpm records that are 70 to 120 years old.
Great 78 has been operating since 2006 to offer free access to the public in a largely forgotten but culturally significant musical archive. Through the efforts of dedicated librarians, archivists and sound engineers, they have digitized hundreds of thousands of recordings stored in shellac resin, an antiquated and fragile medium.
The resulting recordings contain even the scratch that exist on analog discs and have not removed any of the noise that modern remastering techniques usually discard.
The record companies' lawsuit said the project includes thousands of their copyrighted recordings, including Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" and Chuck Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven." The companies claim that the recordings are all available on authorized streaming services and "are not at risk of being lost, forgotten or damaged".
The labels' lawsuit, filed in federal court in Manhattan, said the Archive's "Great 78 Project" operated as an "illegal record store" for famous singers such as Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis and Billie Holiday.
They claimed their damages in the case could reach $412 million.
The Internet Archive is already facing another federal lawsuit in Manhattan from leading book publishers who said its pandemic-launched digital book lending program infringes on their copyrights. A judge ruled in March in favor of the publishers, in a decision that the Internet Archive plans to appeal.