YouTube has been making millions for popular entrepreneurs who have created unique videos and massive audiences. The future of YouTube video has never looked brighter, but with success there often problems that arise.

Ultra Records, which has signed up musicians like Kaskade, deadmau5 and Calvin Harris, claims that popular YouTube personality Michelle Phan has been using some of their songs without proper permission. The result is that Ultra Records has filed a lawsuit claiming copyright infringement by Phan, and claiming she has used 50 of their songs without permission in her popular YouTube videos and on her web site.

Ultra Records is asking for a serious amount of damages, too – $150,000 per song, which would add up to a hefty $7.5 million dollars if Phan is found liable to pay that entire judgment. Phan has built up an audience of over 6 million subscribers who eagerly follow her makeup tutorials. Her most popular video, the Barbie Transformation Tutorial, has been viewed 50 million times, and her video on reproducing Lady Gaga’s look has been viewed 45 million times.

One of the odd twists in the lawsuit is that one of the musicians that Ultra Records featured in the suit (and, in fact, the most prominently featured musician), Kaskade, is on Phan’s side in the dispute. “Copyright law is a dinosaur, ill-suited for the landscape of today’s media,” said Kaskade on Twitter. He expressed his disbelief that his own record label was suing Ms. Phan for copyright infringement. “And the kicker . . . they’re citing her using my songs for the suit. Come. On,” he tweeted. The Grammy-nominated Kaskade said there was little he could do to stop the label from pursuing the case.

“Your music inspired not just myself, but millions of my followers to dance and dream on,” Phan responded to Kaskade.

Ultra Records filed the suit in California, and they are also seeking an injunction to prevent Phan from continuing to use their music. Ultra Records claims it has “sustained and will continue to sustain substantial, immediate and irreparable injury” as a result of Phan’s use of its copyrighted music.

A spokesman for Phan said the lawsuit “lacks any merit” because “Ultra agreed to allow Michelle to use the music and Michelle intends to fight this lawsuit and bring her own claims against Ultra.” Further, the spokesman said, “Michelle’s intention has always been to promote other artists, creating a platform for their work to be showcased to an international audience. Kaskade, whose music has been featured in Michelle’s videos, has publicly defended Michelle against Ultra’s claims and acknowledges the success he’s gained from her support.”

This will need to get sorted out in court, but certainly the case will be watched closely by other YouTube stars. It certainly seems like YouTube videos would be a great way for musicians to get their music more widely noticed, and benefit both parties. The devil is in the details, though, and all parties will need to feel that the agreements are fair and equitable.

Source: BBC