Skip to main content

YouTube star sued for copyright infringement over music in her videos

YouTube star sued for copyright infringement over music in her videos

Share this story

If you buy something from a Verge link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

YouTube sensation Michelle Phan, whose beauty and style videos have earned her 6.7 million subscribers, is being sued for copyright infringement over the music in some of those clips. Ultra Records — which has been home to popular EDM acts like Kaskade, Deadmau5, and Calvin Harris — says Phan has regularly used (and profited from) music performed by its DJs without permission. Ultra hit Phan with a lawsuit last week, claiming that the YouTube star has repeatedly been told she doesn't possess the necessary rights to use tracks like Kaskade's "4 AM" in her videos, but apparently those warnings have fallen on deaf ears.

When you're that big, copyright infringement doesn't go unnoticed

The YouTube star "continues to willfully infringe in blatant disregard of plaintiff’s rights of ownership," the suit claims. So far the company's lawyers have found "over 50 examples of blatant copyright infringement." Now Ultra wants a court to step in and grant an injunction prohibiting Phan from using its music. It's also seeking "either maximum statutory damages of $150,000 for each infringed work or unspecified damages to be determined," according to Reuters.

Phan launched her YouTube channel in 2006; in the years since, the videos she's published have been viewed nearly 1 billion times. Her most popular is the Barbie Transformation Tutorial seen above, but Phan has also produced makeup how-tos that teach fans how they can look more like Lady Gaga, Snow White, Princess Jasmine, and even Tim Burton. She's been featured in YouTube's own ad campaigns and reportedly makes millions each year thanks to her videos and ad earnings that come from them. So perhaps it was only a matter of time before someone noticed a problem with the music accompanying her work. For his part, Kaskade is firmly in Phan's corner and says he has no control over the legal battle.