11 March 2019Copyright

Google, Spotify and Amazon to appeal copyright royalty decision

Google, Spotify, Amazon and Pandora have appealed against a decision by the US Copyright Royalty Board (CRB), which would increase royalty rates paid to songwriters by 44%.

Last week, a joint statement from Google, Spotify and Pandora reportedly said that the recent royalty decision raises serious procedural and substantive concerns.

In early February, the CRB announced that it would increase the royalty rates paid to songwriters for the streaming of their music for the five-year period from 2018-2022, which will see the rates for music on streaming services rise by 44% by 2022.

Streaming companies were given 30 days to lodge an appeal if they wished.

“If left to stand, the CRB’s decision harms both music licensees and copyright owners. Accordingly, we are asking the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to review the decision,” said the statement.

The CRB’s decision was handed down two years after songwriters and music publishers began legal proceedings in a bid to obtain higher royalties paid to them from technology companies, including Apple, Google, Amazon and Spotify.

At the time of the decision, David Israelite, president/CEO of trade organisation the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), said that if a streaming company chose to challenge the new terms, they would “in effect declare war against songwriters”.

On Thursday, March 7, the NMPA published a statement in response to Amazon and Spotify’s decision to file a notice of appeal. The NMPA will also file a notice of appeal.

Israelite said: “When the Music Modernization Act became law, there was hope it signaled a new day of improved relations between digital music services and songwriters. That hope was snuffed out today when Spotify and Amazon decided to sue songwriters in a shameful attempt to cut their payments by nearly one-third.”

The statement doesn’t mention Pandora or Google, and it’s unclear whether the NMPA knew at the time that the two services were also joining the appeal.

“No amount of insincere and hollow public relations gestures such as throwing parties or buying billboards of congratulations or naming songwriters ‘geniuses’ can hide the fact that these big tech bullies do not respect or value the songwriters who make their businesses possible,” claimed Israelite.

He went on to thank Apple for accepting the decision and for “continuing its practice of being a friend to songwriters”.

This story was first published on TBO.

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More on this story

11 February 2019   The US Copyright Royalty Board has announced that it will raise the royalty rates paid to songwriters for the streaming of their music for the five-year period from 2018-2022.