New music licensing lawsuits involving MCNs ahoy! But this time, the MCNs aren’t on the receiving end. Machinima and Collective Digital Studio are suing a company called Freeplay, which offers a catalogue of “free” music for use in YouTube videos. “After luring in unsuspecting consumers with the promise of ‘free’ music, Freeplay then encourages these consumers to use the music, including in their own YouTube videos. 

After the consumer follows Freeplay’s advice, Freeplay then traps the consumer by demanding that he or she pay outrageous ‘license fees’ for the use of music that was supposedly ‘free’,” explains one of the lawsuits. For its part, Freeplay says it will aggressively defend the lawsuit: “We are preparing a response that will clearly demonstrate that the allegations and characterisations in the complaints are baseless,” said its attorney Oren Warshavsky. The MCNs’ claim that Freeplay threatens individual creators with litigation if they don’t pay it an “outrageous” fee – a digital shakedown. That said, it’s a reminder why MCNs might do better to strike their own licensing deals to pay royalties, rather than leaving creators to get their background music from “free” sources.

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