Ultra Records state that the use of as backing music to several of Phan’s videos, which generate millions of views, amounts to a breach of copyright.
Phan’s videos are a key instance of beauty blogging dominance in the cosmetics retail and marketing space, with her most popular ‘Barbie Transformation Tutorial’ reaching over 55 million views. In 2010, she became L’Oreal-owned Lancôme’s official video artist, and in August last year, L’Oreal launched a new ‘EM by Michelle Phan’ cosmetics line.
If successful, the lawsuit could cost the vlogger heavily, with Ultra reportedly seeking $150,000 for each instance of copyright infringement, unless a settlement can be reached.
A cautionary tale
Phan has spoken out against the lawsuit, and her legal team has released a statement which claims that Ultra had in fact granted the make-up reviewer permission for the songs’ use.
“Ultra’s lawsuit against Michelle Phan lacks any merit. Ultra agreed to allow Michelle to use the music and Michelle intends to fight this lawsuit and bring her own claims against Ultra,” it asserts.
Regardless of the eventual outcome of the case, the lawsuit will come as a cautionary tale for any beauty blogger with a substantial following online: YouTube’s top 15 vloggers now hold an average of 2.1 million channel subscribers each.
Defenders speak out
One key artist mentioned in the lawsuit by Ultra as being illegally sampled in Phan’s video content is DJ and producer, Kaskade, who has since spoken out in defense of the vlogger.
“Kaskade, whose music has been featured in Michelle’s videos, has publicly defended Michelle against Ultra’s claims and acknowledges the success he’s gained from her support,” acknowledge Phan’s legal team.
The artist took to Twitter to confirm his backing, stating: “I’m not suing @MichellePhan + @ultrarecords isn’t my lapdog. I can’t do much about the lawsuit except voice support for her.”
In a display of light-hearted yet vocal support, Kaskade went on to compliment the blogger for her “taste in music”, and knowledge of “secrets on how to make my eyes really POP”.