This is an interesting turn of events.
As first reported by Music Ally earlier this month, ByteDance-owned TikTok has asked the UK’s Copyright Tribunal to step in to resolve a licensing dispute with ICE – the joint venture between European collecting societies PRS for Music, STIM and GEMA.
TikTok confirmed the move, stating that it has “been in active and extended negotiations with ICE” and that it has “asked the UK Copyright Tribunal as a neutral third party to help us reach a reasonable outcome”.
An ICE spokesperson then responded, calling TikTok an “unlicensed” platform, while explaining that ICE was “disappointed [that] an agreement for [the] use of the millions of musical works belonging to the songwriters, composers and publishers we represent has not been reached before this point”.
The timing of TikTok’s referral of the matter to the UK’s Copyright Tribunal for adjudication arrives very shortly after Bytedance’s appointment of a top European rights lawyer in a key position.
That person is Dr. Joern Radloff, who only two months ago was Head of Rights & Repertoire at… ICE.
Radloff arrived at Bytedance in June as Corporate Development (Music, Content, Intellectual Property) / Senior Counsel. The exec has, according to his LinkedIn page, this month (July) taken on the additional role of Head Counsel Music Licensing, EMEA / Corporate Development IP EMEA at the company.
His responsibilities at Bytedance include “Global Music Copyright and Repertoire Management for TikTok”, in addition to being “EMEA Head Counsel on music copyright, content licensing and IP related matters (AI,monetisation, products, marketing, business development)”.
Radloff worked at ICE for more than three-and-a-half years and was “responsible for the strategic planning, management and aggregation of all music rights/repertoire of the [ICE] customers and their 250,000 music authors for global licensing and new (emerging) markets entry”.
Prior to ICE, Radloff was the Head of Rights Management & Repertoire Online at collecting society GEMA (one of the three bodies that are part of the ICE joint venture).
This is not the first licensing dispute TikTok has been involved in this year.
In April a Bloomberg article reported that Universal Music, Sony Music and Warner Music wanted ByteDance ‘to pay them hundreds of millions of dollars’ for music played on TikTok.
ByteDance is currently valued at around $75 billion. It recently acquired UK-based AI Music company, Jukedeck.Music Business Worldwide