PRS Music Rights Body Call in the Lawyers Against SoundCloud

By James O Malley on at

PRS for Music, the music industry body that collects music royalties and distributes them to artists has announced that it is suing music sharing website SoundCloud.

According to Musically the body has been trying to do a deal over music rights with the company for five years, without success. It argues that SoundCloud is supporting copyright infringement by not properly licensing the music it hosts. The email it sent to songwriting members apparently said:

“We have asked SoundCloud numerous times to recognise their responsibilities to take a licence to stop the infringement of our members’ copyrights but so far our requests have not been met. Therefore we now have no choice but to pursue the issue through the courts,”

Apparently PRS gave SoundCloud a list of 4500 infringing tracks that it was hosting - but its response wasn't to do a deal, but was to remove 250 offending posts and saying the problem had been dealt with. So now PRS is kicking its assault up a notch.

As Musically notes, it isn't completely beyond SoundCloud to sign deals with some music industry players: Last year the company signed a deal with the Warner Music Group (one of the "Big 3") - though as of today deals with Sony and Universal have still not happened.

SoundCloud has defended itself in the past against PRS's attacks by arguing that only a small proportion of tracks on the platform are from professional artists who are PRS registered, with the vast majority of the content created by amateurs and hobbyists.

It'll be interesting to see what happens, as the battle is almost the perfect manifestation of the old challenging the new: Whilst figuring out what needs PRS membership might have made sense back in the era of FM radio, untangling music licensing for the digital age is clearly much trickier. [Musically]