Calling it a “scam site,” the RIAA moved swiftly on Friday to keep notorious NFT platform HitPiece offline and “account for all NFTs and artwork auctioned on the site.”
A press release issued late Friday announced that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) had located and sent a demand letter to an attorney representing HitPiece. The legal missive demanded the platform cease infringing upon music creator’s intellectual property rights as well as provide a complete listing of “all site activities and revenues to date, and account for all NFTs and artwork auctioned off.”
HitPiece gained infamy this week when thousands of artists found their songs listed on the site for NFT auction. No permission was asked for or granted — HitPiece had apparently built their site on Spotify’s API, which vacuumed up the metadata for every track on Spotify and added auction buttons for people to buy a “1 for 1” NFT of it. (Read more about HitPiece here.)
Citing the “massive risk to both fans and artists posed by HitPiece and potential copycats,” RIAA Chairman and CEO Mitch Glazier explained the organization had to “move immediately and urgently to stand up for fairness and honesty in the market.”
According to RIAA’s Chief Legal Officer Ken Doroshow, HitPiece “appears to be little more than a scam operation designed to trade on fans’ love of music.”
The letter sent to HitPiece contains even stronger language than that.
“Your clients’ operations have been variously described in recent days as a ‘scam,’ a ‘complete sham,’ ‘immoral,’ ‘unethical,’ and a ‘fraud,'” the letter reads. “All these criticisms are of course accurate.”
The letter demands HitPiece turn over their books on any NFTs sold on the platform (though as we wrote yesterday, it appears that number is likely zero) and appears to be invoking the Lanham Act, the federal statute governing trademark law and the use of artist and brand likenesses.
While HitPiece.com appears to be down for now, the legal missive 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.”
As we wrote yesterday, several of the people involved in HitPiece have become known in the last few days and include a motley group consisting of an Elon Musk wannabe, an ’80s hip hop MC and a failed Republican candidate for governor of Utah.
That should be it for HitPiece, but somehow I doubt that’s the last we’ll be hearing from this crew.