A group of labels led by Sony Music are suing online-radio service Radionomy for copyright infringement and unfair competition.
The lawsuit has been given added spice by the fact that since December, Radionomy’s majority shareholder has been Universal Music Group’s parent company Vivendi.
At issue is Radionomy’s model by which users can create their own radio stations from their music libraries and broadcast those stations to the world. “Defendants’ service unlawfully seeks to provide a mainstream webcasting service for music without such compliance,” claims the lawsuit filed by Arista Music, Arista Records, LaFace Records, Sony Music Entertainment (plus its US Latin division) and Zomba Recording.
There are other allegations, including that “Defendants are neither paying the statutory royalty (or any royalty) nor are they complying with the statutory reporting requirements” in the US, despite claiming to do so on the Radionomy website. The lawsuit alleges willful infringement, claiming that the company has “refused” to remove the plaintiffs’ works from its service when asked.
Tracks by One Direction, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and Britney Spears are among those cited in the lawsuit, with the labels pushing for the maximum statutory damages of $150k per work infringed.
It’s a headache not just for Radionomy, but also for Vivendi, which acquired a 64.4% stake in the company in December 2015, becoming its majority shareholder alongside CEO Alexandre Saboundjian – named as a co-defendant in the lawsuit – and VC firm Union Square Ventures.
We can’t help wondering what Universal Music will make of the filing too, given that its catalogue is just as likely to be streamed through Radionomy.
Radionomy has yet to comment on the lawsuit, although it did announce some new distribution deals yesterday, with Samsung, Roku and Orange Radio.
“The addition of these new partners means Radionomy’s compelling content is available to even more listeners around the world,” said chief business development officer Thierry Ascarez. Although at the time of writing, Radionomy appears to be offline, with an email to users reportedly blaming technical rather than legal issues.