Dance music label sues YouTube star over copyright

Thu Jul 17, 2014 3:02pm EDT
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By Andrew Chung

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Michelle Phan has garnered millions of adoring Internet fans for teaching them how to look like Lady Gaga, Angelina Jolie or even Barbie, but a popular dance music record label is not one of them.

Ultra Records LLC and Ultra International Music Publishing LLC are suing Phan for copyright infringement, alleging she used songs and compilations from some of the world’s biggest dance music DJs and groups in her creative videos without a license.

The case, filed on Wednesday in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, makes it clear the label has only begun its search of Phan’s many online productions, but has so far uncovered dozens of infringements, according to the complaint. Those videos have been viewed more than 150 million times, the plaintiffs said.

Among the Ultra artists Phan seems to have used the most, the complaint said, is Kaskade, a globally renowned U.S. DJ who was nominated for a Grammy last year.

Phan rose to prominence on the Internet with cosmetic and make-up instructional videos. Her “Barbie Transformation Tutorial,” in which she instructs on how to look like the iconic plastic doll, has been viewed more than 54 million times. Her Lady Gaga how-to, more than 45 million times.

Phan has more than 6.6 million subscribers to her YouTube video channel.

As one of YouTube’s biggest stars, she has participated in an advertising campaign for the online video service and in national advertising for Dr. Pepper.

Her videos have become increasingly sophisticated, showing Phan in different locales, some resembling music videos themselves. They continue to offer make-up advice, and are often accompanied by music.   Continued...