Streaming radio service TuneIn has lost a copyright infringement lawsuit in the UK, filed in 2017 by Warner Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment.
As first reported by Bloomberg, a judgement passed today (November 1) by Judge Colin Birss in London said that the digital music platform breached the companies copyright.
The company was sued by the two majors for lacking a license to play music in the country.
Launched in 2002, San Francisco-based TuneIn is a free digital radio service that offers its listeners music, sport, news, podcast and audiobook content.
One of the elements called into question during proceedings was the TuneIn Pro app’s record feature, which Birss reportedly said enables the app to function as “download on demand service”.
Bloomberg reports that the pro app had 150,000 users in the UK in January 2019, but that the record feature was removed in the country in early 2017.
A legal document seen by one MBW source back in 2017 suggested that the majors submitted evidence which they claimed showed a sample of 800 unlicensed TuneIn music streams in the UK.
TuneIn hit music industry headlines in 2017 after hiring former SoundCloud exec Holly Lim as Chief Financial Officer.
Last year the company was exploring a possible sale after enlisting global investment firm Liontree Advisors to help it explore strategic options.
“We hope that TuneIn will now seek to operate on a fully licensed basis and fairly pay rights holders for the music that it’s using to generate revenue.”
Spokesperson, Warner Music
A Warner Music spokesperson commented: “We welcome this decision. We hope that TuneIn will now seek to operate on a fully licensed basis and fairly pay rights holders for the music that it’s using to generate revenue.”
“Today’s judgement confirms what we have long known to be true: that TuneIn is unlawfully redistributing and commercializing links to unlicensed music on a widespread scale.”
Sony Music Entertainment
Sony Music Entertainment said: “The UK Court’s ruling is a critical move in the right direction, and we appreciate its work in reaching a decision in this case. Today’s judgement confirms what we have long known to be true: that TuneIn is unlawfully redistributing and commercializing links to unlicensed music on a widespread scale.
“While this decision marks an important victory against TuneIn’s blatant copyright infringement in the UK, the company continues to unlawfully profit from massive global commercialization of unlicensed copyrighted sound recordings by turning a blind eye to basic licensing requirements and hiding behind safe harbor claims to avoid paying music creators.
“This deprives music creators of compensation for their work, and gives TuneIn an unfair competitive advantage in relation to licensed webcasters that honor their legal obligations and respect the need for artists to receive a fair return on the essential value they provide.”
Music Business Worldwide