CMU Digest

CMU Digest 09.12.19: Genius, TuneIn, GMR, Spinal Tap, UK Music

By | Published on Monday 9 December 2019


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

Genius sued Google over allegations that the latter has been using lyrics from the former’s database without permission. It emerged earlier this year that Genius had strategically placed curly and straight apostrophes into certain sets of lyrics to prove that content from its database was appearing in Google info-boxes. Said lyrics were supplied to Google by aggregator LyricFind. It says it doesn’t source any lyrics from Genius, but that other sites that it does consult are possibly lifting lyrics from the Genius site. Genius doesn’t actually own the copyright in any of the lyrics, so is suing for breach of terms, unfair competition and unjust enrichment. [READ MORE]

The UK high court said that the major labels and TuneIn could both appeal the recent ruling in a copyright dispute between Sony/Warner and the popular radio app. The majors reckon that TuneIn needs its own music licences when it connects users to radio station streams. But the court said that when TuneIn connects UK users to UK stations that are already licensed by UK record industry collecting society PPL, the radio app does not need a separate licence. However, for non-UK stations, TuneIn needs a licence to avoid liability for infringement. Both the labels and the app are set to appeal the elements of the ruling they don’t like. [READ MORE]

The US government sided with boutique collecting society Global Music Rights in its legal battle with the American radio industry, or at least it did on one specific issue. The Radio Music License Committee is trying to force the still relatively new GMR collecting society to accept third party mediation on royalty rate disputes, like the other US song right societies do for competition law reasons. But GMR argues that it’s the RMLC which raises competition law concerns, as it reps a significant portion of American radio stations. The US Department Of Justice told the court that the RMLC was wrong when it said GMR’s lawsuit should be dismissed because it failed to “prove its intent to cause harm by price fixing”. [READ MORE]

The creators of ‘This Is Spinal Tap’ confirmed that their legal battle with Vivendi’s film company StudioCanal was still underway. The four Spinal Tap creators previously settled their separate lawsuit against Vivendi’s music company Universal Music. They said that while Universal had a positive attitude during mediation that “eventually brought about an amiable and equitable solution to our music claims”, the Vivendi film business “has been dismissive to the point of contemptuous”. [READ MORE]

UK Music urged British politicians to recognise the social as well as economic value of music. The cross sector trade group recently estimated that the music business provided a gross value add of £5.2 billion to the UK economy. But in a speech at a Nordoff Robbins conference, UK Music boss Michael Dugher said “the value of music goes way beyond all the pound signs and the piles of economic data”. He added that music could have a positive social impact in areas like health and education. [READ MORE]

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