Music Companies Including Universal Threaten to Sue TikTok Over Copyright Infringement

A body representing a lot of music publishing companies, including Universal, has quite recently threatened to sue TikTok (a Chinese video-sharing app and social networking platform) over Copyright Infringement.

For quite a while now, TikTok has become immensely popular as millions of people across the globe upload their short video clips on the platform, often indulging in lip-syncing with the background music. However, various music rights-holders think that the Chinese-owned video-sharing app doesn’t own the adequate licenses for the music used in its videos. According to a few sources, such music right-holders are now willing to initiate legal proceedings against TikTok.

David Israelite, the chief executive at the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA – a trade association for the American music publishing industry), has stated that filing a Copyright Infringement Lawsuit against TikTok is most probably the future step as he could estimate that even more than 50% of the music publishing market remains unlicensed with the video-sharing app.

Since last year, the world’s largest music company, Universal Music, has been in licensing negotiations with TikTok as the company is looking forward to extracting more money from the video-sharing platform as its user base balloons. However, the publishing arm of Universal Music still doesn’t have any licensing agreement with TikTok in place. It implies that the songwriters at Universal Music, which include Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Elton John, and Billie Eilish, don’t get paid any royalties as and when their songs are inserted in the background music of TikTok videos. Many people believe that this level of blatant copyright infringement is rarely seen that too by a large multinational company.

A TikTok spokesperson, on the other hand, stated that the platform is proud to support the music industry with a plethora of licenses that it owns in place. He further said that the details of any discussions or agreements between TikTok and its partners remain private and confidential at all times and in all aspects.

The NMPA represents a lot of songwriters and music publishers in the United States and holds a previous track record of suing many widely-known companies such as YouTube, Spotify, and Peloton, and often ending up winning settlement money.  In 2016, Spotify had agreed to pay somewhere around $30m to the songwriters for unpaid royalties, and Peloton, earlier this year, settled for an undisclosed amount of money with the NMPA.

When it comes to the music industry, copyrights are generally dealt with separately on the publishing side, which covers songwriting, and the recorded music side, which covers the phase of representing the actual music tracks.

Without any second thoughts, online streaming services have indeed revived the music industry by funneling billions back to well-known music labels. Such companies fiercely safeguard their share of the streaming riches via high stake licensing agreements and negotiations with Google, Spotify, Apple, and many others. For more visit:

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