3 Count: Spinrilla’s End

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1: Ed Sheeran copyright case goes to jury in New York

First off today, Brendan Pierson at Reuters reports that the Thinking Out Loud case has gone to the jury as both sides have finished presenting their case and making their closing arguments.

Ed Sheeran is being sued by the estate of songwriter Ed Townsend. Townsend, along with Marvin Gaye, co-wrote the Gaye hit Let’s Get it On, which the state claims Sheeran infringed when making his hit song Thinking Out Loud.

The case reached trial this week and went to the jury late yesterday, with jurors getting a short amount of time to deliberate before retiring for the day. They are now resuming deliberations today, with a verdict likely to be announced today or tomorrow.

2: Copyright Royalty Board Gives More Guidance for 2018-2022 Songwriter Royalty Rates

Next up today, Kristin Robinson at Billboard reports that the Copyright Royalty Board has largely sided with streaming services, granting them a total content cost (TCC) rate that was between 20.65% and 22%, which the streaming companies had requested.

The TCC rate is the money that streaming services pay to labels for licensing music. The royalties are, typically, the greatest of the lesser TCC rate or the headline rate, which is an alternative way of calculating royalties owed. An appeal by the streaming services in 2019 resulted in the headline rate being reduced to 10.5% for mechanical royalties, but an increase in the TCC rate was allowed to stand.

The CRB has now changed that, lowering the TCC rate to be between 20.65% and 22% of streaming revenue. Rightsholders had sought an increase in the TCC rate to 26.2%. However, most observers are saying that the decision is “mixed” for both sides as, though the rate itself favors the streaming services, other stipulations favor the interests of the music business.

3: Spinrilla Agrees to Pay the Majors $50 Million to End Copyright Case

Finally today, Chris Cooke at Complete Music Update reports that Spinrilla has reached a settlement with the major record labels and, in addition to agreeing to close down, the company will also pay $50 million in damages.

Spinrilla was a mixtape service that enabled users to create mixtapes using popular music. However, the company was sued by the labels in 2017, when they alleged that Sprinrilla was allowing unlicensed music to be included in those mixtapes. Spinrilla attempted to claim that it was protected by safe harbor provisions but, in 2020, a judge ruled that they had not met the qualifications for DMCA compliance.

The case was heading toward a trial with the labels seeking some $600 million in damages citing alleged infringement of 4082 tracks. However, the two sides have reached a settlement and Spinrilla has agreed to pay $50 million in damages. It’s also agreed to close its doors, hand over its domain and never infringe the copyrights of the major labels again.

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