There was an uproar on Twitter as several music artists discovered something horrible. An account called “joinhitpiece” appeared to be making – and trying to sell – NFTs of artist’s songs, and their album art, without the artist’s permission.
This led to the RIAA threatening a lawsuit against HitPiece over what the RIAA called “flagrant” IP violations. Billboard reported that the RIAA sent out a demand letter Friday (Feb. 4) to NFT platform HitPiece on behalf of the major labels. Billboard also reported that HitPiece started its beta launch by “pulling artwork and other information off Spotify”.
Here is part of the email to HitPiece from Jared Freedman, Senior Vice President, Litigation, at the RIAA. The full letter is on SCRIBD.
…I understand that you represent the NFT auction website Hitpiece dot com (“Hitpiece”) and its founders, including Rory Felton, Michael Berrin, and possibly others. As you are in no doubt aware, your clients, through the Hitpiece website, have been engaged in the systematic and flagrant infringement of the intellectual property rights of the Record Companies and their recording artists on a massive scale.
Using the artist track names, copyrighted album art, and other protected images – all without the permission of the rights owners – your clients have offered at auction and sold NFTs promising ownership in a “unique sound recording” and the ability “to create a digital display of album artwork associated with their favorite music, with a one-of-its-kind, non-fungible token (“NFT”) of the artwork”. Many of these “unique song recordings” and associated artwork are those owned or exclusively controlled by the Record Companies…
Oh, and apparently HitPiece has launched a second website with a similar name.
Predictably, the RIAA demands a cease and desist from HitPiece. That shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. This entire fiasco provides an incredibly stupid example of how NOT to start a business.