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Sony Music sues DIY radio platform owned by Universal Music’s parent company

By | Published on Wednesday 2 March 2016


Sony Music is suing Belgium-based DIY radio platform Radionomy, which is fun, because – as you may remember – Universal Music owner Vivendi took a majority stake in the Radionomy company late last year.

The dispute is over the firm’s core product, which allows users to make their own online radio stations by tapping music in the digital company’s music libraries or uploading tracks from their own PC. Users are then encouraged to find an audience for their ‘stations’ – of which there are currently over 30,000 – because stations with no audience are turned off, while there are kickbacks for those who make the most listened to playlists.

But, says Sony, none of this is properly licensed. Or at least, not anymore. It seems Radionomy did once have a relationship with US-based collecting society SoundExchange, which administers the compulsory licence that covers services of this kind in America. Meanwhile, on the publishing side, Radionomy has, in the past at least, said that it is licensed by Belgian collecting society SABAM.

It’s claimed that when Sony approached Radionomy with its copyright concerns last year, the digital firm admitted that it hadn’t paid any royalties to SoundExchange since 2014. Despite it allegedly still claiming to be paying statutory royalties through the US collective licensing system on its website.

Meanwhile, alleges the major, the company “refused” to remove music from its platform when requested to do so by the record labels, which would mean that Radionomy couldn’t even plead safe harbours, unlike Dailymotion, another now Vivendi-controlled European content platform that rankles some music rights owners.

Acquisitive Vivendi took a majority stake in Radionomy – which also owns the Shoutcast streaming system, ad-network TargetSpot and the Winamp player – last December, saying that the purchase would “expand its presence in the value chain that flows from talent discovery to content production and distribution”.

The entertainment conglom then added that “collaboration between the digital audio platform and the Vivendi businesses will be established and a number of innovative offers will be developed”.

Radionomy, which announced a new mobile app yesterday, is yet to comment on the Sony litigation, which has been filed in the Californian courts. The service actually seems to be down this morning, though it’s not clear it that is anyway related to the legal action.