3 Count: Inequitable Agreement

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1: ‘American Idol’ Winners: Sony-Spotify Deal Cheats Artists

First off today, Nate Rau at The Tennessean reports that artists including Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson, along with the company 19 Recordings, have filed an amended complaint against Sony Music, alleging that the company’s deal with Spotify was not negotiated in good faith.

Sony entered into an agreement with Spotify where it took a 5% equity in the company in exchange for lower royalty rates for streaming music. The amended complaint alleges that Sony does not share the equity with the artists, meaning that they negotiated a deal that shorted artists’ royalties in exchange for part ownership in Spotify.

The plaintiffs in the case further allege that other labels have entered into similar arrangements and are calling for greater transparency on the issue of streaming royalties including how much royalties are paid to labels and how the labels divide those royalties up. The case is actually part of an ongoing lawsuit between the parties that primarily looks at transparency in music streaming royalties.

2: Canada Offically Extends Copyright Term to 70 Years

Next up today, Karen Bliss at Billboard reports that Canada has given the Economic Action Plan 2015 royal assent and is now law. With it, the copyright term in recorded music has been extended from 50 years to 70 years.

Music Canada, the organization that represents the recorded music industry in Canada, has applauded the measure noting that many living and working artists would have seen their music enter the public domain.

Currently, more than 60 countries have recorded music copyright terms 70 years or longer, including the EU, Australia and the United States.

3: Google Dangles Free Music-Streaming Service to Lure Paid Subscribers

Finally today, Alistair Barr at The Wall Street Journal reports that Google has introduced a free tier to its Google Music product in hopes that it will be able to attract more subscribers to its paid music streaming service.

Google Music is a Spotify-like service allows users to stream an unlimited number of songs from the Google Music library for $9.99 per month. It launched in 2013 and, unlike Spotify, did not have a free tier at launch. But, while both Spotify and Google Music’s free tier are ad-supported, Google’s will not allow users to select specific songs, instead, they will only be able to listen to curated radio stations and playlists.

Google makes its announcement as Apple prepares to launch its Apple Music service, with a similar free tier product. Apple Music, however, has faced controversy over its original plans to not pay royalties during the 3-month free trial. It has since backed down from those plans, promising to pay, but has also been criticized for the low rates during that time.


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.

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