It’s not just Tidal and Spotify who are being sued for alleged under-payment of mechanical royalties in the US – now Google Play is facing a class action lawsuit too, according to an overnight news story reported on by Music Business International.
Google Inc was issued with a complaint from John Emanuele, drummer in the band American Dollar, and his publisher Yesh Music in the Southern District Court of New York. The complainants are the same parties who are also suing Tidal.
Like that suit, the Google Play complaint claims that “Defendant failed to serve an NOI, or a timely NOI, for all of Plaintiffs’ and Putative Class’ Copyrighted compositions.”
The term NOI is an abbreviation meaning notice of issue or intent, and used in filing a complaint with a court.
The plaintiffs claim that Google continued to infringe the copyright of two compositions after being served with notice on July 22, 2015.
They are claiming statutory damages awards of anywhere between $750 and $30,000 for each infringed composition and up to $150,000 for willful infringement.
The issue of mechanical licenses is a reoccurring problem in the US, in part because there appears to be an incomplete database that can assign rights. In Canada, the CMRRA is vested with clearing the rights and maintains an extensive database making it relatively easy to license songs for reproduction by broadcasters, webcasters and for re-sale in physical formats. Spotify is on record as saying it will invest in creating its own master list, although clearances fall within the purview of the Harry Fox Agency in the US.
Tidal has responded to its lawsuit from Emanuele, a member of the band American Dollar, with the following statement:
“Tidal is up to date on all royalties for the rights to the music stated in Yesh Music, LLC and John Emanuele’s claim and they are misinformed as to who, if anyone, owes royalty payments to them. As Yesh Music, LLC admits in their claim, Tidal has the rights to the Master Recordings through its distributor Tunecore and have paid Tunecore in full for such exploitations.
“Their dispute appears to be over the mechanical licenses, which we are also up to date on payments via Harry Fox Agency our administrator of mechanical royalties.
“The main compositions in question were release by The American Dollar and their entire catalogue streamed fewer than 13,000 times on Tidal and its predecessor over the past year. We have now removed all music associated with Yesh Music, LLC and John Emanuele from the service.
“This is the first we have heard of this dispute and Yesh Music, LLC should be engaging Harry Fox Agency if they believe they are owed the royalties claimed. They especially should not be naming S Carter Enterprises, LLC, which has nothing to do with Tidal.
“This claim serves as nothing other than a perfect example of why America needs Tort reform.”