NFT website Hitpiece has been hit with legal action after several artists criticised it for allegedly auctioning off their music without their knowledge or permission.
The website was showing hundreds of what appeared to be active auctions for NFTs tied to artists’ albums and songs, from iconic artists such as The Beatles, Taylor Swift and Bob Dylan to smaller independent acts.
The move led to a backlash from artists with Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz and Sad13 tweeting: “Hey you stupid fucks, we don’t have any deal with you or any NFT site and there SURE DOES LOOK like an active auction going on for a speedy ortiz song.”
Bleachers‘ Jack Antonoff added: “Any bleachers NFTs are fake. At the moment I do not believe in NFTs so anything you see associated with me isn’t real. And thanks to M for sending me this bullshit 🙂 i’m on one today!”
hey you stupid fucks @joinhitpiece we don't have any deal with you or any NFT site and there SURE DOES LOOK like an active auction going on for a speedy ortiz song
— speedy ortiz ÷ sad13 ÷ sadie dupuis ÷ haunted guy (@sad13) February 1, 2022
any bleachers NFTs are fake. at the moment i do not believe in NFTs so anything you see associated with me isn’t real. and thanks to M for sending me this bullshit 🙂 i’m on one today!
— jackantonoff (@jackantonoff) February 1, 2022
Shortly after the outcry on social media, HitPiece issued a brief statement on Twitter that stated that “artists get paid when digital goods are sold on HitPiece” and it is “continuing to listen to all user feedback and are committed to evolving the product to fit the needs of the artists, labels and fans alike.”
— HitPiece – NFTs (@joinhitpiece) February 2, 2022
Now, according to Billboard, the Recording Industry Association Of America has contacted the site on behalf of major labels, alleging the infringement of their intellectual property rights.
“As you are 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,” wrote RIAA senior vice president of litigation Jared Freedman in a letter to HitPiece’s lawyers.
The letter goes on to say that the sound recordings and associated artwork are “owned or exclusively controlled by the record companies” that the association represents and HitPiece’s business model is contingent on “outright theft” that “is as outrageous as it is brazen.”
Even though the site has since been taken down, the RIAA argues that HitPiece is still “liable to the record companies and their artists for damages” for the time that it was live”.
A spokesperson for HitPiece previously told Billboard that “the ability of artists or owners to be paid is a functionality that HitPiece is developing” and that the company “never used or sold any copyright music without permission and [HitPiece] will not do so … HitPiece’s mission is to create a fun experience in the metaverse for music fans and a new revenue stream for artists and owners.”
NME has contacted HitPiece for comment.