Sony Music is suing online radio service Radionomy for copyright infringement – a company that just so happens to be a sister organisation to Universal under Vivendi.
In a lawsuit filed at a California federal court last Friday (Feb 26), a group of Sony brands – including Arista Records, LaFace Records and Sony Music Entertainment – accuse the service of violating their copyright on several counts.
In addition to owning Winamp and Shoutcast, Radionomy hosts 57,000 radio stations which are managed by its users – typically stations which broadcast for free online.
It also controls TargetSpot, the first digital audio advertising network in the United States and in France, as well as offering FM radio stations tools to develop and monetize their digital presence.
Sony is claiming the maximum US statutory damages amount of $150,000 per infringed track.
“It is clear that at least some, and perhaps most, of the stations [Radionomy] provides on its service do not qualify for a statutory license.”
The Sony lawsuit reads: “Plaintiffs bring this action seeking to put an immediate stop to, and to obtain redress for, Defendants’ ongoing and willful infringement of Plaintiffs’ copyrighted sound recordings and album cover art (“cover art”) (collectively, the “copyrighted works”) via an online service through which Defendants unlawfully reproduce, publicly perform, and/or display Plaintiffs’ copyrighted works, and/or facilitate and encourage their users to do so.”
It adds: “Although a limited statutory license to publicly perform certain of Plaintiffs’ sound recordings by means of a digital audio transmission is available for certain qualified users, and certain qualified uses, under Sections 114 and 112(e) of the Copyright Act, Defendants have not sought to avail themselves of such a license since late 2014. Moreover, it is clear that at least some, and perhaps most, of the stations Defendants provide on their service do not qualify for such a license.”
Vivendi acquired a 64.4% majority stake in the Belgian-based Radionomy Group last year, becoming a majority shareholder alongside the firm’s founder Alexandre Saboundjian, its employees and Union Square Ventures.
Vivendi said its capital investment in Radionomy Group would ‘provide an impetus for its commercial development, supported by the promising outlooks for the advertising and digital audio markets all over the world’.
It added: ‘Radionomy is also very well positioned to capitalize on the expected evolution of the digital audio market towards targeted advertising, thanks to its technical tools and its partnerships.’Music Business Worldwide