CMU Digest

CMU Digest 17.08.20: Genius, Stairway To Heaven, Fortnite, NMPA, Cox Communications

By | Published on Monday 17 August 2020


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

A US court rejected the Genius lawsuit against Google. Genius said that lyrics contained in info boxes on Google’s search engine had been grabbed from its website. It sued for breach of contract and various other violations under state law in New York and California. But a judge ruled that this was, in fact, a copyright case and should have been pursued as such. That’s a big problem for Genius because it doesn’t actually control the copyright in the lyrics on its site – songwriters and music publishers do – making it hard for Genius to protect its content through the courts. [READ MORE]

The US Supreme Court was asked to consider the long-running ‘Stairway To Heaven’ copyright dispute. The estate of the late Randy Wolfe – which claims Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway’ ripped off his song ‘Taurus’ – argue that the Ninth Circuit appeals court got it wrong by upholding a lower court ruling that the two songs were not sufficiently similar to constitute copyright infringement. That, the estate says, was based on two incorrect interpretations of copyright law that set a dangerous precedent. Sufficiently so, it adds, that the Supreme Court should intervene. [READ MORE]

‘Fortnite’ maker Epic Games joined Spotify in going public with its grievances over Apple’s App Store rules. Though it also took aim at Google. The games firm updated its Fortnite app adding alternative payment options that violate the app store rules of both Apple and Google. When they inevitably removed the app from their respective stores, Epic filed lawsuits accusing both tech firms of anti-competitive behaviour. Plus it launched a consumer-facing ad campaign – mimicking a famous Apple advert from the 1980s – encouraging its users to also put pressure on Apple and Google, which force the use of their own payment platforms for in-app purchases so that they can charge a commission. [READ MORE]

The US National Music Publishers Association said it was hopeful a forced review of the most recent Copyright Royalty Board ruling on American streaming rates wouldn’t result in royalties being cut. An appeals court in Washington DC agreed with Spotify and other digital firms that the CRB had not followed the correct procedure during its most recent review of the compulsory licence that covers the mechanical copying of songs in the US. That means a new review of that licence will now take place. But the NMPA said that the appeal court’s decision basically approved the most important element of the CRB’s original ruling: a 44% increase in the portion of streaming revenues allocated to the song. [READ MORE]

Cox Communications argued that $243 million should be sliced off the billion dollars in damages it owes the US record industry. The internet service provider has so far failed to overturn last year’s court ruling that said that – because of shoddy procedures for dealing with copyright infringement and repeat infringers on its networks – it could be held liable for the infringing ways of its customers. However, the judge who oversaw the case did agree with the ISP that – where the majors own both the song and recording in a track, or where a track contains a derivative work – the music companies shouldn’t get multiple sets of damages. On that basis, Cox has calculated its damages bill should be $243 million less. [READ MORE]

READ MORE ABOUT: | | | | | | | |