Microsoft, Yahoo And Real Sued For Failing To Get All Necessary Licenses For Music Stores
from the oops dept
It's pure speculation until more details come out, but one imagines that the licensing deals with the record labels included some sort of assurances that the publishing rights were covered as well -- and for songs whose publishing rights were covered by the major record labels, that's probably the case. But for songs where the publishing rights were owned by independent companies -- such as MCS Music America, the claim appears to be that the publishing rights were never cleared -- and thus, Microsoft, Yahoo and Real were streaming/downloading music to which they only held some of the rights. Yikes.
Most of the complaint details which songs were offered without (allegedly) having secured all the rights. And, of course, the publishers are claiming that every time a song was streamed or downloaded, it counts as a separate act of infringement. If the court agrees, this could represent a massive liability for Microsoft, Yahoo and Real, given the fines we all know can be issued over a single instance of infringement.
That said, this is yet another example of the convoluted house of cards that copyright has become. The idea that you can license a recording, but then need to get a separate license from a totally different party for the rights to the "underlying composition" (and don't get us started on the need to make sure you're covered for reproduction, distribution and performance rights -- three separate issues under copyright law), and you begin to get a sense of the problem. Basically, every time some new technology or innovation comes along, the copyright holders run to Congress to slap on another right, rather than actually innovating on the business model side. And on top of it, when new technologies like the internet come along, it's not at all clear which rights really apply and who controls/owns what rights. Suddenly, you have a massive mess for a company trying to do something as simple as let people listen to music. Just for that, you get a massive lawsuit like the following: