German courts have issued injunctions to five “music streaming manipulation” websites, IFPI and BVMI officials announced today.
The injunctions against music streaming manipulation websites – i.e. fake play providers – came from courts in Bremen, Cologne, Hamburg, and Darmstadt (with the Hamburg court issuing two injunctions), per a formal release. Additionally, it was indicated that a different streaming manipulation platform ceased offering illicit streams after receiving a cease-and-desist letter.
These newest courtroom successes are part of a long-running effort to curb the prevalence of artificial-play providers. Back in March, Digital Music News was first to report that a German court had issued a separate injunction yet, against one of the European nation’s foremost streaming manipulation websites, Followerschmiede.de. Given this legal triumph and the latest injunctions, it appears that the overarching effort to stem the tide of artificial streams is proving effective.
Streaming manipulation (and the financial effects thereof) has long been a contentious subject within the music community. Previously, we covered one indie label’s estimate that fake streams cost musicians a whopping $300 million per year. And in May, discussion of the topic was reignited as indie label Sosa Entertainment’s unpaid-royalties lawsuit against Spotify took an interesting turn.
The streaming service targeted Sosa in an aggressive countersuit, alleging that the 550 million or so plays in question were fraudulent. Sosa has denied the accusation, but Spotify doubled down on its charges in a new filing last month. Needless to say, the legal battle’s result could have a far-reaching impact upon music streaming manipulation – including its very definition.
In other streaming manipulation news, DMN relayed in June that Norwegian authorities had launched an investigation into Jay-Z’s TIDAL. The probe arrived following two or so years of fraud accusations, beginning with a Norwegian journalist’s finding that Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo and Beyonce’s Lemonade were allegedly padded with over 320 million fake streams. (The Life of Pablo began as a TIDAL exclusive before arriving on Spotify, Apple Music, and other streaming platforms; Jay-Z and West quietly settled a lawsuit stemming from the work’s TIDAL exclusivity – or lack thereof – in January 2019.)
Most recently, Spotify emphasized in no uncertain terms that artists and labels are unable to buy their way onto playlists: “You cannot pay to get on an official Spotify playlist,” playlist editors wrote. Plus, the playlist curators signaled that any company or individual that offers placements in exchange for cash “is a streaming manipulation service that goes against Spotify’s guidelines for music promotion.”