Fort Wayne, IN (March 24, 2016)—Sweetwater Sound has filed suit against Hello Music, charging that the Austin, TX-based internet retailer has copied considerable amounts of text and images from Sweetwater’s website.
In a statement, Sweetwater noted 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.’ The company suggests, however, that Hello Music copied materials to the point of leaving Sweetwater’s name in many pages, including the phrase “Call your Sweetwater Sales Engineer.”
While a simple Google search for the term “sweetwater” on Hello Music’s site turns up 40-plus instances, the linked pages appear to have now been deleted. Many, however, are still viewable via cached pages in the search.
This isn’t the first time this has happened to Sweetwater; in December, 2014, Sweetwater announced that more than 70 music retail websites had lifted anywhere from one or two images to hundreds of pages from Sweetwater.com. Since then, the retailer says the problem has persisted, with dozens more lifting copyrighted material.
Sweetwater said in its statement that it usually asks an infringing website to remove appropriated material, but that Hello Music had taken Sweetwater IP multiple times in the past, “thus forcing Sweetwater to take legal action.”
Sweetwater’s attorneys 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.”