The Four Tet’s Streaming Royalties Dispute in Domino: What’s Going On and Why It Matters

In bringing the lawsuit, Four Tet sought damages of up to £ 70,000 (about $ 95,000) additional costs. Hebden is also seeking a court ruling on the 50 percent royalty rate. If a judge determines that the contract does not include streams and other digital formats, then Four Tet should have received a “reasonable market rate” for them, according to the musician’s legal arguments.

As the UK music trade outlet knows Complete Music Update, the litigation fits into a long-standing debate over whether digital formats represent a “sale” or a “license” under the terms of analog-era contracts. Cases have been filed over this issue since the iTunes era. In 2009, Eminem’s former producers FBT Productions lost one such royalty lawsuit against label giant Universal Music Group. Almost a decade ago, Enrique Iglesias launched a similar case against Universal, with the exception of streaming royalties; according to online court documents, the two sides later reached a confidential settlement.

The case of the four Tet has not been seen until in the middle of last year, after Domino’s defense filing went public in February 2021. Domino argued that Four Tet was not entitled to a 50 percent rate for streaming royalties. The label reportedly points to another contractual provision that sets a rate for “new technology formats” of 75 percent of the “if not applicable rate.” Domino argued that even if it paid Hebden an 18 percent rate for its digital catalog “on a discretionary basis,” it was only obligated to pay a fraction of that. The label also reportedly states that the streaming and download rates are the same, arguing that “a stream is always a technical download of data packages.” In addition, Domino argued that streaming was not a mainstream distribution method during the 2001 contract period and that Hebden had not yet considered it.

That thing turned heads last fall when Domino was scrubbing Stop, Circles, ug Everyone Was Happy—Reportedly three studio albums covered by Four Tet’s indie deal — from services like Spotify and Apple Music. (Four of Tet’s 2010 albums There is Love in You, although originally released by Domino, was apparently not part of the same contract.) Hebden tweeted that Domino’s lawyers “said they would remove [his] music from all digital services to stop the progress of the case. ” Caribou’s Dan Snaith, another former Domino -signed electronic artist, expressed support for Hebden, tweet that the removal of the albums was “a desperate and vindictive act.” Snaith writes that Four Tet was “inspired by setting a fair standard for other artists in similar situations, rather than his own self -interest.”

A couple of UK music business groups are also weighing in for Hebden. The CEOs of the Music Managers Forum, an association of professional music managers, and the Featured Artists Coalition, which lobbied for the rights of music artists, issued joint statement criticizing dismissal as “misguided and self -defeating.”

After the scream, Domino said a statement that it was “like sadness” about the situation. “The decision to temporarily remove the three Four Tet albums from digital services has not been overturned,” the statement read “We are advised to do so as a necessary consequence of [Hebden’s] litigation at this time. ” Since legal processes began in December 2020, according to the statement, Domino has offered to mediate but Four Tet’s camp “rejected” them. “We continue to try to work with them again to find a solution to this dispute: one that is fair on both sides, but to no avail,” Domino said. “Through all of this, we have become open and continue to discuss and mediate. While we are both discouraged that these steps need to be taken, we remain hopeful that a good solution can be reached in the future. Our door is now and always open for further discussion with [Hebden]. ”

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