Posted Aug 27th, 2015 (1:33 pm) by Jess Marsh

It's time for SoundCloud to pony up the dough.

PRS for Music is a society in the UK that grants licenses for organizations to play, perform, and distribute copyrighted music, while insuring proper royalties are paid to the artist. After fruitless attempts to convince SoundCloud to obtain a PRS for Music license, the group has opted to take legal action against the popular streaming service. The failure to obtain a license has prevented artists affiliated with PRS for Music to receive the royalties owed to them.

In an email sent out to PRS for Music affiliates today, the group stated that they "have no alternative but to commence legal proceedings." They went on to call the decision difficult, but in the best interest of the group's members to take action. PRS Music hopes that the threat of legal action will push SoundCloud into obtaining the necessary licensing.

The email notes that some PRS for Music affiliates were affected by the Great SoundCloud Cleanse of 2015, which aimed at taking down copyright infringing material. In a letter to the service, PRS for Music furnished a list of 4,500 works on the site, and asked SoundCloud to either obtain the license, or remove the works they were hypocritically infringing on. SoundCloud responded by informing PRS they had removed 250 posts. Since no one knows what criteria SoundCloud is using to identify infringing works, it is impossible to tell why those 250 were removed, and the remainder were not.

The email ended with the statement, "If the streaming market is to reach its true potential and offer a fair return for our members, organisations such as SoundCloud must pay for their use of our members’ music."

As SoundCloud makes its inevitable push toward being a profitable streaming service, it makes sense as to why they are cleaning up work that crosses the line between fair use and copyright infringement. But after securing licensing deals with Merlin and Warner Music Group, it is a bit suspicious that they have ignored PRS for Music's attempts to make things fair for everyone involved. However, in SoundCloud's process in becoming a paid service, tons of small labels and licensing groups are going to want a piece of the inevitable money pie. It is likely that this will not be the last group that will take aim at SoundCloud.

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