Business News CMU Digest

CMU Digest 18.06.23: Twitter, Live Nation, Music Fights Fraud, Dr Luke, YouTube

By | Published on Sunday 18 June 2023

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

A coalition of US music publishers sued Twitter for copyright infringement. Their lawsuit noted that Twitter remains the one big social media firm yet to negotiate licensing deals with the music industry to legitimise all the music that appears in videos posted to its platform. It stated: “While numerous Twitter competitors recognise the need for proper licences and agreements for the use of musical compositions on their platforms, Twitter does not, and instead breeds massive copyright infringement that harms music creators”. The publishers added that tweets featuring videos with music “attract and retain users to the Twitter platform, drive ad impressions, and advance Twitter’s key metrics and economic interests”. The lawsuit seeks court confirmation that Twitter is liable for copyright infringement; an injunction ordering it to stop infringing the music industry’s rights; and statutory damages that could top $250 million. [READ MORE]

Live Nation in the US announced it would start using all-in-pricing on tickets for shows at the venues and festivals it operates. It means that the full price of a ticket, including any fees or commissions, will be stated in marketing and at the start of any transaction on Ticketmaster. The announcement was made as part of an update by US President Joe Biden regarding his campaign to end what he calls “junk fees”. Most ticketing companies actually support all-in-pricing, but many reckon that that approach should be in mandated in law, because if only some companies go that route, on a voluntarily basis, it will look like their tickets are more expensive at first glance. In the UK, ad industry regulator the Advertising Standards Authority already has a rule demanding that approach be taken when listing ticket prices. Some other live industry companies in the US will also adopt all-in-pricing as a result of Biden’s campaign, though there is still support for a new law to be passed in US Congress so that a standard system is applied across the entire industry. [READ MORE]

A number of music distributors allied with Spotify and Amazon Music to launch Music Fights Fraud. The new initiative will facilitate communication and collaboration between competing distributors and streaming platforms in a bid to better tackle stream manipulation and fraud. It’s no secret that scammers seek to fraudulently pull money out of the streaming services each month by delivering mislabelled or copyright infringing music, or by setting machines to listen to their own music on repeat play. Because streaming is ultimately a revenue share business, that negatively impacts the music industry, because there is less revenue for legitimate players to share. Individual distributors and platforms have been seeking to combat the fraud for some time, however it’s generally agreed that a more joined up approach is required, so that scammers can’t jump from one distributor to another when their fraud is spotted. Distributors involved in the scheme include CD Baby and its parent company Downtown, TuneCore and its parent company Believe, DistroKid, UnitedMasters, Symphonic and Empire. [READ MORE]

The New York Court Of Appeals ruled that producer Dr Luke is a “limited public figure”, which impacts on his ongoing defamation legal battle with Kesha. Under New York law, as a public figure, Luke needs to prove that Kesha made her allegedly defamatory statements with actual malice, increasing his burden of proof in court. Luke is suing Kesha over the rape allegations she made against the producer. The judge overseeing the case previously said that Luke wasn’t famous enough outside the music industry to be deemed a public figure, but the appeals court disagreed. The Court Of Appeal also said that new free speech laws introduced in New York state since Luke first sued Kesha should apply in this case. Those laws also potentially force the ‘actual malice’ burden onto the proceedings, while also meaning that – if she prevails in court – Kesha could seek legal costs or damages off Luke. Despite those rulings very much favouring Kesha, Luke’s lawyer told reporters she remained “fully confident” her client would “prevail at trial as a limited public figure given [Kesha’s] conduct and knowledge in issuing the defamatory statements at issue”. [READ MORE]

Maria Schneider called off her legal action over YouTube’s Content ID. The musician sued YouTube over the fact it only provides access to its Content ID rights management tools to bigger copyright owners and content aggregators. Independent creators must manually monitor and manage the unlicensed uploading of their content by YouTube users. That means – Schneider’s lawsuit claimed – that YouTube is not fulfilling its responsibilities under US law to help independent creators monitor and restrict the infringement of their rights on its platform. YouTube countered that Schneider could access Content ID by allying with a distributor. Schneider and her co-plaintiffs wanted class action status for the lawsuit so that it would set a wider precedent regarding YouTube’s responsibilities. But the judge said the case wasn’t appropriate for class action status, reducing the potential impact of any ruling in the case, and prompting YouTube to change its defence strategy. After the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court declined to intervene on the class action decision, Schneider et al confirmed that they were dismissing the lawsuit with prejudice. [READ MORE]

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