3 Count: Mechanical Litigation

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1: The MLC Sues Spotify for Bundling, Cutting Royalties for Publishers and Songwriters

First off today, Kristin Robinson at Billboard reports that the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) has filed a lawsuit against the music streaming service Spotify, alleging that Spotify’s reclassification of its plans is “improper.”

Last year, Spotify added 15 hours of free audiobook listening to its Spotify premium users. However, it recently began to offer an audiobook-only version of its service, which prompted it to reclassify its paid tier plans as “bundles,” meaning that they qualify for a lower royalty rate.

According to an estimate published by Billboard, the change means $150 million less in mechanical royalties next year. Mechanical royalties are paid to composers when the music they wrote is streamed. The lawsuit alleges that Spotify made the change unilaterally, while Spotify claimed in a statement that the move was based on previously agreed-upon contracts with publishers.

2: Internet Archive Fails to Dismiss Record Labels’ Copyright Lawsuit

Next up today, Ernesto Van der Sar at Torrentfreak writes that the major record labels have won a key decision in their lawsuit against the Internet Archive (IA) as a judge has declined to dismiss the case.

The case centers around the IA’s Great 78 Project, which archives the sounds of 78-rpm gramophone records. However, the major record companies have protested the move, saying it is copyright infringement, not preservation.

The IA attempted to dismiss the case because it was filed too late, saying that the labels waited almost six years to file the case. However, the judge has said it is unclear if the statute of limitations has expired on all works involved. The court also did not dismiss the case against the Kahle-Austin Foundation, saying that the nonprofit was likely aware of the IA’s alleged infringement and may have contributed to it. The case now moves forward toward a potential trial.

3: Sony Puts Over 700 AI Firms on Blast Over Music Copyright Violations

Finally today, Jason Nelson at Emerge reports that Sony Music has posted an open letter declaring that it is opting out of AI training and calling on AI companies to cease using their content.

The letter was shared publicly online and sent to some 700 AI companies, including OpenAI, Google and Microsoft. It was sent by Sony Music Group, which represents both Sony Music Publishing and Sony Music Entertainment.

In addition to opting out of AI usage, Sony asked the companies to disclose whether they had previously used Sony-owned music to train AI models. They want further details on what songs were used, how they were accessed and how many copies were made of each track.

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