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Man, oh man…

In the latest string of legal proceedings surrounding copyright and royalty shares between label and artist in the streaming age, Sony Music just responded to a pending lawsuit against them in such a Scrooge-type way.

According to FADER:

Last month, news broke that 19 Recordings, which represents several American Idol alumnae, was attempting to sue Sony over its equity in Spotify. The basic gist of the argument: Sony was profiting from the work of artists on 19 Recordings but not sharing that money with the creators.

Sony struck back today. According to Billboard, the company is arguing that it’s under no obligation “to structure its affairs in whatever way yields the greatest royalties for 19.” Sony believes it can “act on its own interests in a way that may incidentally lessen the other party’s anticipated fruits from the contract.”

I don’t even know how to respond to that…  I can’t say that I’m surprised by any means, but the boldness it takes to actually believe in it seems a bit like schadenfreude.

And from Billboard:

Sony says its deal with 19 means that it has to account for exploitations of “specific” recordings, but that it may keep revenue not tied to any particular sound recording. “In short, the parties anticipated that SME may exploit the recordings in certain ways that would benefit SME, but that may not result in revenue for 19,” it says.

For support that 19 — and by extension, its artists — aren’t allowed to share in revenue “on a general or label basis,” Sony points back to an earlier decision from U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams regarding money that was collected as settlement proceeds in copyright infringement and piracy lawsuits.

“Because no royalty provision required SME to share settlement revenue recovered ‘on a general or label basis,’ SME was free ‘to retain the full amount of any settlements such suits yield,” states Sony in what should be confirmation once and for all that money derived from lawsuits against companies like Limewire didn’t end up in artist pockets. At least, not directly.

So essentially any general settlements paid to Sony on behalf of the artists don’t actually get paid out to the artists themselves… Got it.


Orondé Jenkins is a multidisciplinary artist and media consultant based in Nashville. No Average Journey was born out of his desire to help artists grow in their lives and careers.