The RIAA is threatening legal action against HitPiece, the notorious new NFT platform that launched a beta this week. The company, founded by entrepreneur Rory Felton and investor Jeff Burningham and seemingly involving rapper and music executive MC Serch, listed thousands of NFTs of single and album artwork for sale, all of which were created by pulling information from Spotify’s API without any input from the actual artists. Understandably, this pissed a lot of people off.
That includes the RIAA, who Billboard reports sent out a demand letter 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,” RIAA senior vp litigation Jared Freedman in a letter to Hitpiece’s attorney.
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 was 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.
“As music lovers and artists embrace new technologies like NFTs, there’s always someone looking to exploit their excitement and energy,” says RIAA Chairman and CEO Mitch Glazier. “Given how fans were misled and defrauded by these unauthorized NFTs and the massive risk to both fans and artists posed by HitPiece and potential copycats, it was clear we had to move immediately and urgently to stand up for fairness and honesty in the market.”
“HitPiece appears to be little more than a scam operation designed to trade on fans’ love of music and desire to connect more closely with artists, using buzzwords and jargon to gloss over their complete failure to obtain necessary rights,” adds RIAA’s Chief Legal Officer Ken Doroshow. “Fans were led to believe they were purchasing an NFT genuinely associated with an artist and their work when that was not at all the case. While the operators appear to have taken the main HitPiece site offline for now, this move was necessary to ensure a fair accounting for the harm HitPiece and its operators have already done and to ensure that this site or copycats don’t simply resume their scams under another name.”
Speaking exclusively to Billboard earlier this week this week, a representative for HitPiece said 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.”
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
Bottom feeding scavengers of late capitalism sucking the last marrow from our bones and/or running a scam on me, you, or everyone, because obviously, I didn’t approve this, and apparently neither did anyone else you’ll see on the site. pic.twitter.com/65qwDr8zNI
— Ted Leo (@tedleo) February 1, 2022
I hope whomever it is that’s selling my songs as NFT’s without my permission gets thrombosed hemorrhoids
— Laura Jane Grace (@LauraJaneGrace) February 2, 2022
I don’t do NFTs if a streaming site has NFTs of my music don’t buy from it lmao also someone keeps bootlegging my pictures and selling T-shirts and posters pls stop like lol
— Backxwash (@backxwash) February 1, 2022
— stevie (@adultmomband) February 1, 2022
this site “hitpiece” is selling nft’s of our band and MANY others without permission. if you’re in a band click the link you may be on here. cease and desist motherfuckers. nft’s are fraud https://t.co/BKOUieVenK
— nigh eve6 (@Eve6) February 1, 2022
You can also mint this interaction, auction it, and then shove it up your ass. You have my full permission. pic.twitter.com/prVXdAAQGT
— Wolf Van Halen 🐺 🚐 🙌 (@WolfVanHalen) February 2, 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