People got quite upset and rightfully so with a company that decided to take all of their music and upload them as NFTs. How many of the songs were actually minted by HitPiece remains a question, but the intent was there. HitPiece reportedly took people’s copyrighted material using the Spotify API, which also included artwork, with the intent of selling them as NFTs. As expected, this was met with wide condemnation and legal threats. Now, the music industry body in the US that dislikes these copyright issues the most, the RIAA, has gotten involved.
The RIAA released a statement late Friday that called the company “bogus” and a “scam site.”
“As music lovers and artists embrace new technologies like NFTs, there’s always someone looking to exploit their excitement and energy,” says RIAA’s Chairman and CEO Mitch Glazier in a statement. “Given how fans were misled and defrauded by these unauthorized NFTs and the massive risk to both fans and artists posed by HitPiece and potential copycats, it was clear we had to move immediately and urgently to stand up for fairness and honesty in the market.”
The RIAA says it has sent a demand letter to HitPiece’s founder and attorney (who is going to be busy) demanding the site stop infringing on IP, provide a complete listing of site activities and revenues to date, and account for all NFTs and artwork auctioned off.
The letter to HitPiece from RIAA Senior Vice President, Litigation Jared Freedman does not hold back.
“Your clients’ operations have been variously described in recent days as a ‘scam,’ a ‘complete sham,’ ‘immoral,’ ‘unethical,” and a 'fraud.' All of these criticisms are of course accurate,” wrote Freedman.
“Although it appears that your clients now contend that they did not actually include any sound recordings with their NFTs (which, if true, likely amounts to yet another form of fraud), it is undeniable that, to promote and sell their NFTs, your clients used the names and images of the Record Companies’ recording artists, along with copyrighted album art and other protected images, the rights to which belong to the Record Companies and their artists,” the letter continues. “Your clients’ outright theft of these valuable intellectual property rights is as outrageous as it is brazen."
There were some who thought this was a marketing ploy, but if the RIAA comes for you and your entire company, the only thing one can market are legal fees and the potential dissolution of your product.