News August 4, 2017

Universal Music embroiled in $1 million piracy lawsuit

Charts & New Music Editor
Universal Music embroiled in $1 million piracy lawsuit

HypeForType, the largest online font retailer in Europe, is suing Universal Music Group for US$1.25 million on allegations of piracy.

Universal has been using two fonts designed and licensed by HypeForType, Nanami Rounded and Ebisu Bold, to stylise British band The Vamp’s logo.

The distinguishable font also appears on all of the band’s merchandise, promotional material, as well as various other locations online.

According to the complaint, HypeForType claims Universal failed to obtain the required commercial license to use the fonts in this way and is taking action under the Copyright Act of 1976.

HypeForType is seeking a court injunction, in addition to the damages, that would stop use of the logo immediately and require that all physical goods with the logo be destroyed. 

While the laws surrounding typefaces is far from clear, a video from CrowdSPRING suggests the lawsuit could prove quite damaging for both Universal and The Vamps, who are heading to Australia to tour in September.

The label has become quite accustomed to dealing with lawsuits; however, they are usually the plaintiff, not the defendant. Last year, Universal demanded countermeasures and compensation for the large-scale copyright infringement made by Russian social networking site VKontakte.

Universal, along with Warner Music and Sony Music, also took action against Youtube-mp3.org, the world’s largest site dedicated to offering illegally stream ripped music.

Considering the ambiguity around the laws, it remains to be seen what outcome will be reached on the HypeForFont case. While a court decision demanding Universal to destroy all products bearing the fonts seems like long odds, a deal may be reached between the label and HypeForFont to back date the required license to cover all existing material. 

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