It was only a couple of months ago when, while speaking at a Merrill Lynch Media and Entertainment Conference, Morris griped that social networking sites like YouTube and MySpace were copyright infringers of the highest order and that his company was going to have to do something about it.

One of the first things Morris did after that speech was cut a deal with YouTube, thus ensuring that his label will get paid every time someone watches a Universal music video on YouTube’s glorious micro-viewer.

Now the other shoe has dropped. Only days before Thanksgiving, Universal filed an infringement lawsuit against MySpace.

Of course, Universal filing against MySpace is not exactly Big Business going after The Little Guy. MySpace is a unit of News Corp., which owns Fox Television, Fox News and 20th Century Fox, and is headed up by media mogul K. Rupert Murdoch (the “K” stands for “Keith”). So you could refer to this latest litigation dustup as the “Battle of the Mega Media Superstars.”

In its filing in U.S. District Court, Universal Music Group said MySpace tries to avoid liability by requiring users to agree that MySpace can publish any and all material uploaded to the site. However, because MySpace users have been known to upload their favorite songs, videos, TV clips and other copyrighted material, that part of the user’s agreement could be construed to say that MySpace is claiming ownership of everything posted on its site, even copyrighted material.

Universal’s suit also claims that MySpace “encourages, facilitates and participates in the unauthorized reproduction, adaptation, distribution and public performance.”

Ironically, on the very same day and just hours before Universal filed its lawsuit, MySpace announced it was testing technology that will enable content owners to flag any infringing material for removal.

Sites like MySpace and YouTube claim that they merely provide services, and that the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act exempts them from infringement claims. That is, as long as they remove the unauthorized material when notified by the copyright holders. This is the same provision that protects Web hosting companies from such lawsuits if one of their users posts copyrighted content.

In response to the lawsuit, MySpace released a statement saying it is in full compliance with copyright laws.

“We have been keeping UMG closely apprised of our industry-leading efforts to protect creators’ rights, and it’s unfortunate they decided to file this unnecessary and meritless litigation,” read the statement. “We provide users with tools to share their own work – we do not induce, encourage, or condone copyright violation in any way.”

But this is one lawsuit that may never see a courtroom. Only a few days after Universal’s filing of the suit, Morris, while attending the Reuters Media Summit in New York, indicated that a settlement might be the answer.

“I think it will settle. It would be a horrible case for them to lose,” said Morris, according to Reuters.

Mo’ Morris

But Universal’s lawsuit against MySpace wasn’t the only recent headline moment for Doug Morris. The man was a fountain of quotes at the Reuters Media Summit.

Morris said his company, along with other music companies, was starting to see some real money from new revenue streams, such as iTunes and mobile ringtones.

“I think that next year we’re going to have our best year,” Morris said. “I think our revenues and profits will be the best we’ve ever had.”

Then Morris went on to say, “You can see there are myriad streams of income starting to come into the record companies. We’re going to make money from MySpace, we’re going to make money from YouTube, we’re going to make money from Zune … we will make a tremendous amount of money from telephones.”

Of course, in order for Universal to make money from Zune, people are going to have to start buying Zunes. Microsoft made a deal with Universal that gives the record label an undisclosed royalty for each Zune sold, mainly to prevent lawsuits that could arise from the wireless feature that allows Zune owners to share songs with other Zuners in the immediate vicinity. However, sales of Microsoft’s answer to the iPod have been, well, “soft” to say the least. But you can’t fault a man for being optimistic.

And then there was the quote heard throughout the blogosphere. When asked whether Universal would seek a similar deal with Apple that would give the label a royalty payment for every iPod sold, Morris replied, “It would be a nice idea. We have a negotiation coming up not too far. I don’t see why we wouldn’t do that … but maybe not in the same way.”

Imagine! Doug Morris trying to talk Steve Jobs into paying Universal royalties for every iPod sold. How would you like to be the fly on that conference room wall? Heck, you could turn it into the very first business meeting pay-per-view.

Or just stick it up on YouTube. After all, Universal does have that deal.