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Beauty vlogger Michelle Phan reportedly made $5 million last year off her how-to videos, and now the recording industry wants a piece of that cash. According to Reuters, Ultra Records LLC and Ultra International Music Publishing LLC have slapped Phan with a copyright infringement lawsuit, alleging that she used songs in her videos from the company's artists without license to do so. Ultra says that Phan had been warned that she didn't have a license to use the songs as soundtracks, "and yet continues to willfully infringe in blatant disregard of Plaintiff's rights of ownership."
Ultra is seeking an injunction to stop Phan's use of the music and get her to pay up, with either maximum statutory damages of $150,000 for each infringed work or unspecified damages to be determined. According to the lawsuit, Ultra states that they've just begun searching through Phan's videos and have so far found dozens of infringements, with Kaskade among the Ultra artists that Phan used the most in her videos.
UPDATE: Phan's legal team sent Racked the following statement: "Ultra's lawsuit against Michelle Phan lacks any merit. Ultra agreed to allow Michelle to use the music and Michelle intends to fight this lawsuit and bring her own claims against Ultra. 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."
Kaskade, who is no longer with Ultra now, tweeted his support for Michelle Phan:
I find that @MichellePhan has great taste in music *ahem*, and knows secrets on how to make my eyes really POP. What's not to like?— Kaskade (@kaskade) July 19, 2014
Summary: I'm not suing @MichellePhan + @ultrarecords isn't my lapdog. I can't do much about the lawsuit except voice support for her.— Kaskade (@kaskade) July 19, 2014
Kaskade has been vocal about his belief that music should be free and that "copyright law is a dinosaur, ill-suited for the landscape of today's media."
· Clicks, Likes, Cash: How YouTube Beauty Stars Threw the Industry for a Loop [Racked]
· Beauty Vloggers Are Turning Into Millionaires [Racked]
· Michelle Phan Tells Beauty Brands to Chill for 'Authentic' Videos [Racked]