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First off today, Chris Cooke at Complete Music Update reports that Universal Music is preparing to follow in the footsteps of Sony and Warner Music and settle a long-running dispute about the digital royalties paid to artists for digital downloads.
At issue is the discrepancy between what artists get paid for a “license” of their song versus a “sale” of their song. Under contracts that were written before iTunes and other song download services, artists were paid 15% per sale but 50% per license. However, many “legacy” artists argued that digital downloads were licenses, not sales, and they should be paid the higher royalty rate.
The other major labels have long settled these disputes, offering additional royalties but nowhere near the 50% requested. Universal, however, has continued to fight the lawsuits but now appears to be prepared to make a settlement effort as well, possibly bringing the lawsuits to an end.
Next up today, Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter Esquire reports that, even as Universal Music is settling one lawsuit, another one is heating up as Inflight and its parent company Global Eagle have filed counterclaims against them in their case over the use of music as part of airline entertainment.
Inflight operates the entertainment consoles for various airlines, including American Airlines, which was added to the lawsuit previously. Universal alleges that Inflight did not have proper licenses to play Universal Music, especially on international flights where there may not be a single licensing body to authorize the use of music.
However, Inflight has responded saying that they had an agreement with Universal that began in 2009. Though the agreement was never finalized, Universal repeatedly assured Inflight that they were not infringing until, in 2013, Universal hit them with a surprise cease and desist letter.
Finally today, Scott Mervis at The Pittsburg Post-Gazette reports that rapper Mac Miller has been sued by Jacques Burvick, a former member of the 70s funk band Aquarian Dream, alleginging that Mervis ripped off his song Yesterday.
The issue centers around Miller’s 2014 free mixtape Faces, which included the song Therapy. According to Aquarian Dream, Therapy made use of an instrumental from Yesterday without clearing the sample. As a result, they’re seeking 150,000 in damages, saying that the infringing son has been downloaded 700,000 times.
The suit alleges that Miller’s people could not find anyone to clear the sample but, instead of abandoning the song or rewriting, went ahead and used the portion as it was.
That’s it for the three count today. We will be back tomorrow with three more copyright links. If you have a link that you want to suggest a link for the column or have any proposals to make it better. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I hope to hear from you.