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Soundcloud being sued by PRS's

Discussion in 'Studio Lounge' started by DonnyThompson, Sep 14, 2015.

  1. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    There are at least two Performing Rights Societies who are filing law suites against SC for copyright infringement and illegal distribution, one based in the U.K. and one based in the U.S.

    If this litigation does go through, it could very well result in the end of Soundcloud...

    Basically, the charge is that SoundCloud isn't only being used as a way for independent artists and writers to showcase their own original songs anymore... and that the majority of the 175 million annual SC users are instead using the service as a way to share and distribute commercially released recordings.

    "Last week the UK performing rights society PRS emailed all its members informing them that it had taken the decision to take legal action against the streaming service Soundcloud.
    Karen Buse, executive director for membership and international, explained:
    “After careful consideration, and following five years of unsuccessful negotiations, we now find ourselves in a situation where we have no alternative but to commence legal proceedings against the online music service SoundCloud.”

    BASCA director and Media Committee chair Michael Price:
    “I think a lot of people have missed SoundCloud’s evolution from a hosting service to a streaming service often driven by copyright material. …the 175m unique visitors a month are definitely not there just for their friends’ bedroom demos”.

    "There are rumors that a licensing agreement with Universal Music is expected imminently, but Sony Music recently pulled all of its music from SoundCloud after negotiations stalled."
    "Record label licenses, however, only cover the recordings, not the compositions or songs. Though the US National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) has licensed SoundCloud, so far the streaming service has no licenses in place with any performing rights organization. According to the email, Soundcloud denies that it even needs a licensing deal with PRS for streams within the UK and Europe."


    Sources and further info:



  2. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    I'm glad I read further...
    When I read the title on the recent posts page, my first thought was "Why is Soundcloud being sued by Paul Read Smith....lol" o_O
  3. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    @Sean G

    Sean G said:
    "SC does have a system in place where you cannot upload copyright material, but it is my belief that users simply get around this by loading the track into something like Audacity and changing the tempo rate ever so slightly, or even the pitch very marginally..."

    Truthfully, I wasn't aware that SC even had any sort of copyright filtering/recognition software in place. If this is in fact true, it's not working, or at least it's not working the way it should be. It's not at all difficult to circumvent the current filtering by changing a commercial recording just enough in order to get it to pass and be accepted as a "legal" upload.

    SC doesn't have enough money to do this the legal way - and this litigation didn't just come out of "nowhere", either; various PRS's, Publishers and Labels have been complaining about illegal distribution to SC for several years now.
    The litigation itself - the filed legal complaint - may be recent, but the reason for it isn't. It is the result of several years of complaints.

    There have been some big corporations ( and a few wealthy individuals as well) that have been interested in gaining controlling interest in SC in the past few years - Twitter was one, actor Ashton Kutcher was another - and neither ended up doing so, largely because of the costs involved with licensing and royalty disbursement.

    According to Forbes magazine, "after the publicity of the deal with Twitter surfaced, the prospect was no longer an active consideration. One media report stated that "the numbers didn't add up", while Bobby Owsinski claimed on the Forbes website in July (2014) that "SoundCloud's ongoing inability to secure deals with the major music labels was the foremost culprit in the deal falling through."
    I guess that it could be surmised that if a company as large as Twitter felt that the operational cost would be too high, it would be highly unlikely that any other major corporation would want to get involved, either; although I suppose that it could be considered possible that one of the Big Labels could acquire controlling interest.

    But as of this writing, it's not looking good for The Cloud-ster. LOL. Just the cost of the litigation alone could very well prove to be ridiculously expensive, perhaps even prohibitive to the point that they simply throw in the towel...and if judgement is filed on behalf of the plaintiff(s), which could be multiple in number, they'd then have to incur that cost, too. Another possibility - and while I'm not an attorney - I wouldn't think that it would be impossible for some of these plaintiffs to sue for past royalties as well, on top of what SC would be ordered to pay from here on out.

    As far as I can tell, SC will have four choices ( not necessarily in any order):

    The First is to sell the company to a corporation ( like a record label, for example) who can afford the licensing/royalty costs and walk away.
    The Second is to implement a filter that actually works, and that prohibits any commercial recording from being uploaded and further distributed.
    The Third is to start charging a subscription fee, and to get rid of the free version entirely. You wanna be able to upload and download music? It's gonna cost you this $____ much.
    The Fourth is to call it a day. The ballgame's over, it's time to go home, and SC becomes just another term in the social vernacular of the era - like Napster was in the 90's.

    My personal opinion is that they should be paying licensing fees and/or royalties to those individuals, organizations, or companies who deserve it.

    I HATE pirated music ( and software, too, LOL) and I feel as though if someone is downloading music for free, and the artists/publishers/PRS's are not being paid, or music is being used without permission, then it's stealing, plain and simple.
    OTOH, I like that there is a service where artists ( songwriters, musicians, engineers) can share audio files with each other at no cost.
    If it weren't for the fact that SC's fidelity is questionable - at best - I'd be using them more to share mix proofs with clients, or with songwriting collaborators, or even as a way to float up a test balloon on a song or mix that I'd like feedback on.

    Time will tell what ultimately happens with SC; but from where I'm sitting, here in the cheap seats, it's not looking so good.

    IMHO of course ;)

  4. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

  5. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    I don't know how my last post became one big quote....lol:LOL:
  6. comet1440

    comet1440 Active Member

    I don't think soundcloud should be held legally responsible for people uploading copyrighted music. They market it as a place to showcase your own original music and as long as they actively take down copyrighted works when they are made aware of them, there is not much else they could do. It would be like suing car manufactures because people use the car to run someone over, that's not it's intended use.
  7. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    Thats like the saying "Guns don't kill people, people kill people", while totally correct, it provides the means to do so.
    Just like SC is providing the means for people to file share copyright material through their easily bypassed copyright filter system, which as we are all aware was not what the platform was originally designed for.
    Its another example of something being used for advantage outside of its specific purpose.
    - What if you were the artist struggling to earn a dollar from your craft and people were uploading / downloading your music on SC for free, depriving you of income, would this change your opinion in any way?
  8. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I disagree. First of all, they obviously don't take down copyrighted music; because if they did, there wouldn't be the current litigation against them that there is.

    Second of all, they are to blame - because they do let it happen.

    They are creating an avenue in which copyrighted music can be uploaded, downloaded, and shared - for free, and at no cost to the membership roster - or to the company - and that's piracy, plain and simple.
    Their current modus operandi is to "look the other way" and allow it to happen. If they had been diligent all along about taking down the material in question, there wouldn't be the litigation against them that there currently is.

    You said:

    " I don't think soundcloud should be held legally responsible for people uploading copyrighted music..."

    Okay... then who should be held legally responsible?

    If I were to have a party at my house where I allowed underage people to drink alcohol, I'd be as much to blame as those minors who showed up to drink... perhaps even more so, because I'm creating an environment in which they can do so.

    SC has created an environment that provides people with the opportunity to engage in that which is illegal.

    It is unfortunate that those who do use the service to its legitimate means will suffer, but if SC can't control their own service, if they can't be diligent about preventing illegal distribution from occurring, then it needs to be shut down.

    And, this situation hasn't just "appeared out of nowhere", either. These complaints are not recent. SC has been receiving complaints about their operations from PRS's, Publishers, Artists and Labels for several years now - complaints to which they've ignored, declined to respond to, or have been willing to do anything about.

  9. comet1440

    comet1440 Active Member

    My true feelings are this. Why should anyone ever pay for music? I would hope that people make music for others to enjoy and not so they can burn it to a CD and slap a price tag on it. It's art not a physical commodity. A sound wave is not a physical object. How can you sell it? Why does everything have to have money involved? why can't people make good music and share it with others freely instead of turning everything into a money game. Should attractive people charge anyone who wants to look at them? should we charge people for the oxygen we breathe? money should be abolished in favor of socialism. Everything should be shared - for free. We have the technology to fully automate things and mass produce goods with minimal to no human involvement. We need to pursue a world were we don't live day to day consumed with a who can take advantage of who first mentality. Music should be free. If you make music so that you can make money of it, then you are doing it for the wrong reasons.
  10. Kogwonton

    Kogwonton Active Member

    I was thinking earlier how SC can be sued for lost profits and copyright infringement because a product it sells is being used that way. I then thought that the gun industry in the U.S. has been protected against those kinds of lawsuits for... well forever. I kind of think that if a gun company can't be held responsible for the way people use their products, then neither should SoundCloud.

    Anyway, I feel for all the folks that built a career and watched it get devastated by new technology - tech that is NOT going away. You used the word 'democratized' elsewhere, regarding this kind of thing. I like that, actually. I realize it is now an awful lot harder to become a zillionaire rockstar who can fly around on jumbo jets and trash hotel rooms... And the time of making a hundred million dollars from a single recording might be a thing of the past. As a nobody who has only been seriously trying to learn to play an instrument for all of about 8 years, I'm perfectly willing to adapt to the new environment. I accept that anything I do that can be digitized is likely to be enjoyed for free by just about anybody. I think we're going to be seeing (maybe for a short time, before corporate fascists declare downloading an MP3 an act of terrorism) a kind of golden age of music, because so many people are suddenly able to self publish quality music from their bedrooms (which must really rankle rock gods) and they're doing it purely for the love of music. I suppose it might look to some people like Cuba, where there are no mansions and ivory towers, but damn, the music and the food are good - and everyone has enough.
  11. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    You make a few interesting points
    IMO I feel that if SC is pushed to license for all the copyrighted material thats being UL/DL by users who are using it to file share currently copyrighted material, we may all have to pay to subscribe in the end to use the platform for its intended purpose. Lets face it, the PRS & the recording labels aren't going to lie down & this most likely is not going away. Now the action is started its not going to stop unless SC pays for licensing (where they will then recoup the costs by passing on that cost to users by way of subscriptions), or they bite the bullet and shut down (which I doubt those that have invested in and most likely made a fortune from are going to do), or sell to the highest bidder (if anyone would want to purchase with such a huge liability hanging over their heads).
    If thats the result, we all pay, even to upload our own music, by way of subscription, loss of the platform altogether, or by having a substandard service thats full of advertising for third parties.
  12. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    Theres' a whole new kettle of fish there too...without getting too off topic -
    In a world of data mining where companies like Google vaccuum up information (like their google earth camera cars which data mined peoples' internet data / browsing information, contacts, etc while photographing streets for their Google Earth streetview project & their world book scanning project - another copyright issue there alone as well)...
    - Who owns the information once you upload it to the cloud, any cloud for that matter?
    There is debate as to ownership in a sense that once you upload to the cloud you forgo ownership of the data....WTF???
    See where that leads us down the track...a world where every bit of information about you is owned by some corporation like google

    Welcome to the machine
    Kogwonton likes this.
  13. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    What a bunch of horseshit. What you're describing is communism. Fine. If you truly feel that way, then so be it. I'm not gonna argue with you, other to say that by your logic...

    Books should be free
    Concerts should be free
    Paintings should be free
    You should be able to walk into a record or book store and just walk out with whatever you want.
    Software should be free
    Food should be free
    Power should be free
    Transportation should be free

    It must be nice, this little dream world Utopia in which you live.

    Obviously, you're not a professional musician/artist. You don't make your living doing so. Maybe you don't make a living at all...

    So.. what do you do for a living?
    dvdhawk and Sean G like this.
  14. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    I'm in if a '59 Les Paul is free....
  15. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Sean... Sean... it's time to wake up for school now...
    Sean G likes this.
  16. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    So there can be more music (worth listening to) tomorrow.

    I'll also give you a pass on the rest of that nonsense, but those waveforms ARE a commodity, that generally take some level of talent, time, and money to produce. Out of curiosity, I'd just like to know your age. Just because it seems we've raised an entire internet generation now that seems to share your 'music should be free for the taking' attitude, because it's been so easy to steal. Yes, it is stealing, and stealing is stealing, no matter how someone may rationalize it.

    Dine and dash at a nice restaurant, see how that goes if you're caught. I'm sure the judge will share your views that the chef is an artiste, cooking because he/she loves it. If nobody is paying them for their culinary creations, how are they paying the rent? Keeping the lights on? Water, gas, buying stoves, dishes, and big fancy-ass hats? What about the folks waiting tables, washing the dishes, busing the tables, and taking out the trash? I'm sure they're doing it purely for the love of cleaning up after you. Then is shoplifting a birthright too? Stealing is stealing, no matter how someone may rationalize it.

    If any artist WANTS to give their art away, there is absolutely NOTHING stopping them from doing so. It's also my prerogative to try to recoup my expenses and scratch out a little extra to put away for the expenses involved with raising kids, owning a home, life's many major expenses - and yes, the next music project. In NEITHER case, should a 3rd party be allowed make that decision for either of us. Nobody other than the artist should have the right to give away that artist's work and share it freely - which is what this thread is about. Most online music purchases let you hear a sample of the song, so you can decide if you like it. You're welcome to not purchase it, but you should not be welcome to steal the full length song, just because you can find it for free elsewhere. Stealing is stealing, no matter how someone may rationalize it.

    I'm afraid the disconnect comes because a lot of people (usually uncreative themselves) don't view writing a song, writing a book, writing computer software, or anything creative as work - because it's hard for them to separate the tangible and intangible parts of the process. At the end of the day, artists of all mediums still have to put food on the table and a roof over their heads - just like every other profession under the sun. I only disagree with Donny to the extent that "this little dream world Utopia in which you live", doesn't even sound nice to me. (He is right on the mark with everything else as far as I'm concerned)

    Materialism is certainly a bad thing. Greed is undoubtedly a bad thing. Selfishness is no better. (placing your pleasure ahead of any consideration for the artist who created and recorded the work - which was in no way free by the way) Stealing is stealing, no matter how someone may rationalize it.
    Sean G likes this.
  17. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    Agreed...if the artist wants nothing in return for their work, that choice should be theirs, not the consumer
  18. DM60

    DM60 Active Member

    It is too bad SC is probably going away. Despite a few issues with their player, it is a good place for the novice artist to be able to show case their work. I never knew or even looked for commercial music on the site.

    But I do wonder if PRS really has a case (as in, how much copyrighted material is really on their servers) verses, they don't like the fact that novice artists are able to by pass them and get their music out there and forgo their fee's. Remember PRS is losing money by simply not going through them to release music. I would further add, by not going through them, they see a devaluation in music because of all of the free legitimate music and that further erodes their revenues.

    I am not so sure the intention is a pure as we are led to believe. Protect copyright laws yes, but force people to go through them to be heard, no.
    Kogwonton likes this.
  19. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    I sincerely hope this is a wind up?
    Art IS a physical commodity that has been owned and traded for thousands of years. Did all the amazing painters paint for free? Course not. They painted to live. Same with the classical composers - music was their job. They didn't do it for fun! They were musicians. They were not doing some other job and composing in their spare time. Selling your music is not taking advantage of anybody. People could buy it, or not. We live in a world where we have more rights than ever before - one of which is the right to say NO! If somebody wishes to spend thousands on equipment and then give their product away for free, that is fine - a personal choice. To wish to get compensation for your work is also a right. Maslow's heirachy of needs is something to look at here.

    If I write a piece of music, I decide who can hear it, it's mine. If somebody thinks that their right to hear it is more valid than mine, that's the time to take them to court and sue them!
  20. DM60

    DM60 Active Member

    Not if you sell the publishing, ask Sir Paul, John Cougar, etc. Most groups don't even own the performance rights. Yea, all of those companies are out there protecting the artist. You betcha. Like they have done for so many years.

    The artist has always suffered, the only reason there is even a complaint is because the big music companies are being screwed out of their money. I believe the artist should be protected, but that is not what is happening here for the most part. My 10 cents (inflation).
    Kogwonton likes this.

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