CMU Digest

CMU Digest 02.09.19: RCN, Tencent, Chrysalis, Universal fire, NMPA

By | Published on Sunday 1 September 2019

The key stories from the last week in the music business…

The US record industry filed yet another copyright infringement case against an American internet service provider. This time it’s RCN being sued, which is a sister company to Grande Communications, another net firm currently fighting label-led litigation. Following the precedent set in the previous BMG v Cox case, the majors are now suing a total of four ISPs which, they argue, all operated deliberately shoddy systems for dealing with repeat infringers in their respective user-bases and therefore should not qualify for protection under the copyright safe harbour. Which would mean they could possibly be held liable for their users’ copyright infringement. [READ MORE]

It emerged that the Chinese authorities are investigating Tencent’s exclusivity deals with the major record companies. The Chinese web giant not only exploits the majors’ catalogues on its own streaming services, but also represents those catalogues in the wider Chinese digital market. Meaning it can control its rivals access to that music. Such an arrangement would raise competition law concerns in other countries, and it seems that China’s regulators are finally considering whether that is also the case there, probably following complaints from Tencent’s competitors. [READ MORE]

Acquisitive music rights firm Reservoir grew the recordings side of its business by acquiring Chrysalis Records. The deal is particularly notable because to date Reservoir’s focus has been more on song rights. It acquires the Chrysalis catalogue via a deal with London-based Blue Raincoat, which in turn bought the old Chrysalis label off Warner Music in 2016. Blue Raincoat founders Robin Millar and Jeremy Lascelles will continue to run the label, which – Reservoir said – will now benefit from its expertise in areas like sync and YouTube channel management. [READ MORE]

Universal Music continued to criticise the class action lawsuit filed over the 2008 fire at its Hollywood archive. The major has previously said that the legal action, filed after the recent New York Times revelations about that fire, is meritless. It also argues that most of the artists listed as plaintiffs did not actually lose any master tapes in the fire. One of them – Soundgarden – did, for 1991 album ‘Badmotorfinger’, but that didn’t stop the subsequent release of a 25th anniversary edition. The band also previously knew about the losses, the major said, and should therefore immediately withdraw from the class action. They did not. [READ MORE]

The US National Music Publishers Association questioned how Spotify and Amazon are calculating royalties for American songwriters and publishers. The NMPA is angry with both web firms for appealing the recent Copyright Royalty Board ruling on what rates streaming services should pay for the songs they stream. Now it argues that the two companies are also incorrectly applying said CRB ruling when it comes to what rates should be paid on family packages (in Spotify’s case) or packages where music is bundled with other services (in Amazon’s case). The trade group has written to both requesting they show their working. [READ MORE]

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