Universal Files Lawsuit over Prison Mixtapes

Universal Files Lawsuit over Prison Mixtapes
If you thought that being in prison was enough to protect you from the wrath of Universal Music, think again. The record label just filed a lawsuit against a group of companies (including Centric Group and Keefe Group) targeting care packages sent to U.S. prisoners that allegedly include mixtapes with copyrighted material.

The case concerns a service called Access Securepak, which is a program designed to help friends and family members of prisoners send care packages to inmates. These are said to sometimes include CDs from a company called Ari's Mixtapes, and these apparently feature material from Universal acts like Eminem, the Jackson 5, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, LL Cool J and more.

As the Hollywood Reporter reports, Universal's suit was filed in filed in California federal court and alleges that these "infringing copies of Plaintiffs' sound recordings and musical compositions, in which Defendants unlawfully transact and from which they unjustly profit, are contraband personified."

It argues that the word "mixtape" is "frequently a cover for piracy," and that such CDs are "nothing more than collections of infringing, piratical compilations of copyrighted or otherwise legally protected sound recordings and copyrighted musical compositions."

The music is allegedly being used "as a 'door opener' to solicit customers to purchase others goods and services," and that it is being sold below market value as a way to attract buyers to purchase other items. In other words, Universal believes these CDs are a key part of the defendants' profits.

Universal is seeking the maximum statutory damages of $150,000 for each infringed work, plus legal fees, punitive damages and more.