The nonprofit Internet Archive is facing a lawsuit over one of its music preservation projects. This was reported by Engadget.

Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and several other music labels have filed a lawsuit against the organization. They accuse the organization of copyright infringement for digitizing, “intentionally uploading, distributing and transmitting digitally” pre-1972 sound recordings.

This refers to the Great 78 Project, which aims to preserve music recorded on 78 rpm discs. The labels call the organization’s actions a “blatant violation” because it involves music by artists such as Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Miles Davis and Louis Armstrong.

The companies said the songs on the project’s website are already available through streaming and other services, so they are “not in danger of being lost, forgotten or destroyed.” In response, the organization said that “the artifacts and evidence of use of the often rare 78 rpm discs and records still have research value.

The plaintiffs disagree, arguing that the Internet Archive’s activities “far exceed” the limited purposes of preservation and research.

“Internet Archive unabashedly seeks to provide free and unlimited access to music for everyone, regardless of copyright,” they are convinced.

The labels are seeking damages of up to $150,000 for each protected recording. According to Bloomberg, that could add up to $372 million for all the recordings listed.

By the way, many writers and musicians are concerned about copyright infringement during the training of generative AI. For example, two authors sued OpenAI, the company that created ChatGPT, for allegedly using their artwork for machine learning, which is the basis of the chatbot’s artificial intelligence.