Tunecore, Believe Digital Sued for Massive and Willful Copyright Infringement

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New York City-headquartered publisher Round Hill Music has filed a massive copyright infringement lawsuit against Paris-based indie label distribution company Believe Digital and its TuneCore subsidiary.

Round Hill Music recently submitted the firmly worded legal complaint to a New York federal court, and Digital Music News obtained an exclusive copy of the corresponding filing. The 32-page-long lawsuit, which also names Believe parent company Believe SAS as a defendant, centers on Believe Digital’s alleged reproduction and distribution of some 219 Round Hill compositions “without any license, either direct or compulsory” via TuneCore, to music download platforms including iTunes and Amazon’s MP3 store.

Believe Digital and TuneCore “purport to have mechanical or other publishing licenses in place for all sound recordings uploaded” to these third-party stores as part of their sub-agreements, but “did not and have not properly licensed the Round Hill” compositions, according to the filing. Additionally, the plaintiffs maintain that Believe Digital and TuneCore have failed to pay the mechanical royalties that they’d have owed if the works were properly licensed.

Round Hill claims in the legal text that it notified Believe Digital and TuneCore of the alleged infringement, but the plaintiff entities “chose not to [cease infringing upon the Round Hill works] in order to continue their own financial enrichment.” To be sure, the lawsuit also alleges that Believe Digital and TuneCore “concealed Round Hill’s requests for proof of licensing and notice of infringement from their clients” to keep cashing in.

Rounding out the description of the defendants’ alleged copyright infringement, Round Hill reiterates that the allegedly unauthorized usage occurred during the last three years. Besides reimbursement for legal fees, the plaintiffs are seeking compensation of $150,000 for each of the allegedly infringed works, or $32.85 million. At the time of this writing, neither Believe Digital nor TuneCore had addressed Round Hill’s lawsuit on social media.

Earlier this month, we provided an update on the more than one-year-long lawsuit between Eminem publisher Eight Mile Style and leading music streaming service Spotify. Eight Mile Style alleges that Spotify infringed upon and failed to pay adequate royalties for 243 Eminem songs – a claim that the Stockholm-based brand promptly denied. Furthermore, Spotify named Kobalt Music Publishing as a third-party defendant, stating that it (Spotify) was “licensed by Eight Mile’s agent, Kobalt” to offer the Eminem tracks in question.

And in April, we reported on yet another copyright infringement lawsuit involving Apple. The case stemmed from the company’s allegedly failing “to obtain any license that would authorize them to reproduce, distribute, or sell” 2,000 of the defendants’ tracks.

2 Responses

  1. Blobbo

    ALL the MIDDLEMEN need to be REMOVED from the music business. There needs to be a not for profit, or 10% profit capped streaming company formed for musicians, who dump labels and bigger corporations entirely. This whole modern system is a dysfuntional joke that rewards all the gatekeepers and none of the producers, except the mega names. The current system needs to DIE!

  2. Roger

    Hey Blobbo, ten years ago I suggested this and got support from the AFM and many people who worked for the Beatles, Beach Boys, Toto and many other bands. They all agreed with me BUT then they all wanted me to pay to create the Platform which was called MTunz (Musicians selling their Tunz directly to the fans). The musicians need to come together to create this new Platform and make the fans aware that their money will no longer be going to the middle men but going directly to the Creative community, the people who make the music! Until somebody does something to change things, we will continue to see this “dysfunctional joke” and the musicians will have only themselves to blame for not taking action
    Roger Scott Craig