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Two very different stories emerge in music copyright battle

One party claims that it has been fruitlessly negotiating for the protective rights of copyright owners it represents for five years.

The other party counters that deeming those negotiations unsuccessful and summarily truncating them is unfortunate, given that the two sides were "in the midst of an active commercial negotiation."

Welcome to the world of copyright infringement litigation, which is unquestionably punctuated in a recent lawsuit pitting PRS for Music against Sound Cloud by a we-say, they-say quality.

PRS is a huge United Kingdom-based company that advocates on behalf of scores of thousands of musical artists and publishers, seeking to ensure that they are duly compensated through copyright license agreements for the third-party use of their protected works.

SoundCloud is a growing giant in the world of so-called streaming music, serving as an online Internet platform through which users -- and there are many of them, with an estimated 175 million people visiting the site each month -- listen to music.

And they do so for free (SoundCloud earns money through online advertising), which is at the heart of the litigation filed recently by PRS, which contends that SoundCloud must flatly execute a licensing agreement with it or forgo using the music of any of the artists it represents.

SoundCloud views otherwise, maintaining that it is under no duty whatever to deal with PRS, given "safe harbor" rules that enable online platforms (one might readily think YouTube for reference here) to house music without liability. As noted in a recent article discussing the safe harbor provisions, Internet providers and hosting companies "are only required to remove copyright-infringing content from their platforms when notified by a rights owner."

SoundCloud additionally contends that suing it harms many of the plaintiff's own clients, stating that high numbers of them use SoundCloud's platform "to share their work and communicate with their fan base."

SoundCloud was reportedly valued last year at around $700 million.

Source: Financial Times, "Songwriters' body sues SoundCloud over copyright," Robert Cookson, Aug. 27, 2015

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