Somehow Universal Music, the world's largest music company, is painting itself as the helpless victim of senseless and barbaric copyright infringement. Music sales are plummeting! Wahh! They're launching a campaign against companies that provide care packages for prisoners. Specifically, it's the mixtapes included in these packages that are the problem.

Allegedly these companies – Keefe Group and its parent company, Centric Group – basically don't have the "right" to distribute mixtapes that feature any artists on Universal's roster. I've looked around the sites and can't seem to find much mention of mixtapes, but there is a pretty cool looking mp3 player service, which might be the offending article.

The lawsuit states:

Defendants boast on their website that their business 'was developed to eliminate contraband,' yet the infringing copies of Plaintiffs' sound recordings and musical compositions, in which Defendants unlawfully transact and from which they unjustly profit, are contraband personified.

Contraband personified! Fire and brimstone! But seriously, I see their point; Keefe/Centric Group are clearly profiting in some way from this service they provide. However, a custom-made mixtape (I assume this is how it works) is unlike anything you can get from Universal itself. They might have a few compilations, but nothing like a member of your own family, or a friend, can put together for you personally for a care package going to prison. In that respect, it's miles from contraband.

Yet, the lawsuit goes on its mad language to say that "Defendants have acted in willfull and reckless disregard of, and with indifference to, Plaintiffs' rights." That is a very interesting thing to say. I suppose you get more rights as a company as you get more money. Being the largest music company in the world, Universal must have infinite rights. How do you get infinite rights? By effectively owning the music of James Brown, Eminem, Tupac, LL Cool J, Nas, Mary J Blige, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder. That's how you get to be the world's biggest music company, I guess.

But it's the music of these artists ("to name just a few" – please!) being put into these prison-bound mixtapes, something that Universal seems to be super pissed off about. Are Universal really in jeopardy here? Is there really any danger of them losing, truly losing, money?

They really seem to think so, as the lawsuit legalese continues:

Defendants have unlawfully, and without authority from Plaintiffs, reproduced, distributed, and prepared derivative works based on, Plaintiffs' sound recordings and musical compositions. Defendants sell pirate copies of Plaintiffs' copyrighted and otherwise protected works through physical catalogs and a website.

Universal are demanding $150,000 from the companies for each copyrighted work infringed (or an "award" of their profits), restitution of "unlawful" proceeds, damages, oh and injunction to stop these horrific things from ever happening again. Wow. But as William Congreve said in his 1697 play, The Mourning Bride, "Music has charms to soothe a savage breast" – an angry, rageful heart can be cured, to some degree, with music, and this – aside from licensing bullshit and a huge juggernaut of the music industry acting like it's the David in this situation when it's clearly the Goliath – is the most important thing here. People being allowed access to art, no matter where it comes from.

Anybody, company or company, claiming to literally "own" the music of somebody like James Brown or Stevie Wonder should seriously re-evaluate what they are actually contributing to the world. But that's just me.

But, just last year vinyl sales surpassed a million for the first time this century. Something is growing, and maybe Universal's just scared of it all.