Napster, iHeartMedia Dropped from Massive Streaming Collusion Lawsuit

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In March, performance rights organization Pro Music Rights (PMR) filed a far-reaching lawsuit against an array of companies, including prominent music industry entities such as Apple, Spotify, Deezer, Pandora, iHeartMedia, and Rhapsody, over their allegedly colluding to create an “illegal cartel.” Now, Pro Music Rights has dropped Rhapsody (as well as its Napster music streaming division) and iHeartMedia from the ongoing case.

For additional background, Pro Music Rights’ 120-page-long original complaint alleged that iHeartMedia, Rhapsody, and many other defendants “entered into an illegal agreement, combination and/or conspiracy to shut PMR out of the market and to fix prices at infracompetitive levels.”

Pro Music Rights levied similar charges against each of the defendants (including iHeartMedia and Rhapsody), centering mainly on their alleged preference for striking public performance deals with other PROs, refusing to buy public performance licenses from PMR, and boycotting PMR “all while publicly performing musical works in PMR’s Repertory in Connecticut,” where the lawsuit was filed.

However, a pair of newly obtained legal filings reveal that Pro Music Rights has voluntarily dropped iHeartMedia and Rhapsody from the lawsuit. PMR, which is owned by 21-year-old Sosa Entertainment founder Jake Noch, submitted the iHeartMedia dismissal notice yesterday and the Rhapsody dismissal notice less than a week before that. The legal documents don’t include terms of possible settlements, though the complaints were dismissed with prejudice, meaning that Pro Music Rights has relinquished the right to take legal action against the companies at a later date (specifically in matters relating to this lawsuit, that is).

Also worth noting is that Napster and iHeartMedia are now prominently featured atop the homepage of Pro Music Rights’ website, within an interactive banner labeled: “Trusted by Top Companies Worldwide.” Vevo, Meijer, and the U.S. Navy are among the other entities included on the banner.

At the time of this writing, Pro Music Rights hadn’t responded to DMN’s request for comment. But that’s not the only full-scale legal attack being waged by Noch.

Yesterday, we reported that Spotify had doubled down on its stunning counterclaims against indie label Sosa Entertainment, which Pro Music Rights’ head Jake Noch also owns, once again. Specifically, the leading music streaming service claimed in its bolstered counterclaims filing: “Noch designed a scheme to artificially generate hundreds of millions of fraudulent streams on songs he had seeded on Spotify’s online music-streaming service.”

While Noch hasn’t yet reached out to Digital Music News with a statement regarding Spotify’s updated counterclaims, he called the legal action “laughable and blatantly false” when it was first introduced in May.