CMU Digest

CMU Digest 19.08.19: CRB, consent decrees, Spotify, Cox, SoundExchange

By | Published on Monday 19 August 2019


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

Spotify, Amazon, Google and Pandora filed their appeal against the US Copyright Royalty Board ruling on streaming rates. The tech firms want a rethink of the CRB’s recent revamp regarding how the compulsory licence covering mechanical rights in the US applies to streams. The biggest change in that revamp was a top-line increase for song right royalties from 10.5% to 15.1%. In their appeal the tech firms took aim at the CRB’s process, heavily relying on arguments made by one of the board’s own dissenting judges. The music publishers filed their own appeal papers calling for most of the CRB’s original ruling to be upheld. [READ MORE]

The US collecting societies clashed with their customers in the ongoing consent decree review. America’s Department Of Justice is reviewing the consent decrees that regulate song right collecting societies BMI and ASCAP. The societies – and their songwriter and music publisher members – want an overhaul, with a sunset clause added that could ultimately end DoJ regulation altogether. But various trade groups repping broadcasters, tech giants, venues and the hospitality sector have again this month insisted that the consent decrees should be kept in place unchanged. [READ MORE]

Bloomberg reported that Spotify was planning another price rise experiment in its most mature markets. The streaming firm, under pressure from the music industry to increase the monthly fees it charges users, already instigated a price rise in Norway last year. It will now reportedly increase the cost of a family plan in other Scandinavian markets. Spotify dubs these pricing experiments “tests”, but the record companies would like to see similar pricing changes in other key markets. [READ MORE]

The US record industry accused internet firm Cox Communications of bad conduct in an ongoing legal dispute. The major labels are suing Cox over the copyright infringement of its customers. Like BMG before them, they are arguing that the ISP had a deliberately shoddy system for dealing with repeat infringers, and therefore should not get safe harbour protection from liability for its users’ infringing activity. The labels and Cox had been due to attend a settlement conference, but the net firm cancelled at the last minute. In a complaint to the court, the labels alleged that Cox may have deliberately set out to waste their time, adding that this was another example of “a consistent pattern of obstruction, delay and gamesmanship”. [READ MORE]

American collecting society SoundExchange announced an alliance with a company called SourceAudio which will seek to provide a music licensing solution for podcasters. Although record companies are increasingly excited about the promo potential of music-based podcasts, it’s really difficult for podcast makers to license the songs and recordings they feature in their programmes. SourceAudio is developing a music-licensing-for-podcasters service and SoundExchange plans to support it. Though participation will be optional for artists, songwriters, labels and publishers, which means the new service won’t offer a radio-style blanket licence, limiting how useful it is to those podcasts that feature lots of music. [READ MORE]

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