Sweetwater has filed suit in United States Federal District Court against Hello Music for copying verbatim a large number of images and copy blocks from Sweetwater’s online pages. The abuse is so blatant that the name Sweetwater appears on most pages, and even the words “Call your Sweetwater Sales Engineer” are present.
In December, 2014, Sweetwater announced that more than 70 music retail websites have allegedly lifted anywhere from one or two images to hundreds of pages from Sweetwater.com. Since then, the problem has persisted, with dozens more lifting copyrighted material.
It’s understandable that mistakes can be made and that there can be an unintentional use of copyrighted words and phrases, as well as the depiction of products that may or may not be “fair use.” In the case of Hello Music, as with many others, copy and images have been deliberately cut and pasted from Sweetwater’s website.
Sweetwater has said that taking legal action is its last resort, and that upon being informed of the infringement, offending websites quickly remove the material. In the case of Hello Music, this is not the first time that they have misappropriated Sweetwater materials, thus forcing Sweetwater to take legal action.
Sweetwater’s attorneys have commented, “Copyright infringement is a very serious matter. Infringement of a federally registered copyright can result in statutory damages of at least $750 per incident and as much as $150,000 per incident (plus attorney fees) for willful infringement.”
Sweetwater Founder and President Chuck Surack said, “Sweetwater truly regrets having to go so far as to file suit, but we do so to defend our rights, but also in support of all online retailers who invest in unique, proprietary content. This is really about the integrity of the music retail business as a whole.”