3 Count: Songwriter Settlement

Songwriters as mechanical animals...

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1: Spotify Reaches an Agreement with Publishers Over Missing Royalties

First off today, Micah Singleton at The Verge reports that the National Music Publisher’s Association (NMPA) has reached a settlement with music streaming service Spotify over unpaid mechanical royalties.

The NMPA sued Spotify alleging that it had failed to adequately compensate songwriters and publishers for owed mechanical royalties, the royalties owed to songwriters when a song is sold on or streamed on demand. Mechanical royalties are a compulsory license meaning that the law dictates the terms but many songwriters have complained that Spotify is failing to comply with the terms of the license, including notice of using the song and paying the royalty. Spotify, however, said that it struggled to locate rightsholders due to poor metadata.

Under the agreement, Spotify will $16 million in unpaid royalties and $5 million in a bonus fund for songwriters and publishers who opt into the deal. Spotify will also work with songwriters and publishers to create a database of songwriters to ensure future payments go more smoothly.

2: “Dancing Baby” Appeals Court Decision Stands Minus the “Fair Use” Algorithms

Next up today, Ashley Cullins at The Hollywood Reporter Esquire reports that the 9th Circuit has declined to re-hear the “Dancing Baby” case but did amend its previous ruling slightly to remove some of its discussion about how rightsholders can weigh fair use when filing Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notices.

The case began when Universal Music Group filed a DMCA takedown notice against Stephanie Lenz over a 29-second YouTube video of her son dancing to Prince’s Let’s Go Crazy. With the help of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Lenz sued Universal claiming that the video was a fair use and the takedown was false. Universal hit back saying it was under no obligation to consider fair use.

The 9th Circuit supported Lenz on the fair use issue, ruling that rightsholders did need to consider it before filing a notice. However, both sides sought a rehearing with the full panel of judges to create greater clarity. The court has denied that but has altered its original ruling, which stated that rightsholders could lean on algorithms to aid them in filing notices. The amended ruling has removed that portion but emphasized that rightsholders only need subjective, not objective, good faith when filing a notice.

3: ​European Court of Justice Opinion Says Public Wi-Fi Operators Not Liable for Piracy

Finally today, Richard Smirke at Billboard reports that The European Court of Justice has filed a preliminary ruling that states operators of public wifi access points can not be held liable for users who commit piracy through them.

The case centers around Sony Music Entertainment Germany, which filed a lawsuit against Tobias McFadden. McFadden owns a lighting and sound equipment company near Munich that had an open wifi access point be used to share at least one song illegally. The case was originally tried in Munich but transferred to the European Court of Justice for deliberation.

Now the Advocate General limitations on liability involving intermediaries mean that open wifi operators can not be held liable for piracy. However, his ruling is not binding and the matter will be taken up the court itself with a full ruling to come later.


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.

The 3 Count Logo was created by Justin Goff and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.

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