SoundCloud Sued Over Unpaid Royalties

A British agency filed a suit against SoundCloud last week alleging seeking royalty payments for the music streamed on the popular website. Called the Performance Rights Society, or PRS, the agency claims that SoundCloud is infringing on the copyrights of the more than 100,000 songwriters and publishers by not obtaining licenses or paying out royalties when songs are streamed from SoundCloud. A PRS spokesman declined to specify what the agency is seeking in the suit, and court documents have not yet been made public. SoundCloud has declined to answer questions about the suit, but did release the following statement: “No one in the world is doing more to enable creators to build and connect with their audience while protecting the rights of creators, including PRS members.”

Launched in 2007, SoundCloud has gained popularity among musicians and music fans for its easy-to-use interface and functionality, but has come under attack from labels that want royalties paid to their artists. The site allows any user to upload audio files to the SoundCloud server and link the files through social media or other websites. The site has been operated as a free service so far, though a new service launched last year that displayed advertisements aimed at generating royalties for artists. The new service has been slow to catch on, however, as Warner Music is the only label to have signed a licensing deal with SoundCloud. The other major labels, Universal and Sony, have scoffed at SoundCloud’s new ad-supported service and have even pulled some of their artists’ music from the site, occasionally angering the artists themselves.