Epic Games and Google Ink Temporary Agreement to Keep Bandcamp on the Play Store

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Late last month, reports revealed that Bandcamp was facing a possible removal from the Play Store amid a broader billing-policy battle between its Epic Games parent and Google. Now, the involved parties have finalized a temporary agreement that will keep Bandcamp available for download as the courtroom confrontation plays out.

The just-inked deal from Google, Epic, and Bandcamp came to light in a joint legal filing as well as a promptly published blog post on the musician-powered platform’s website. In brief, regarding the specifics of the Google-Epic Games clash, the much-publicized dispute centers on a Play Store rule change that would compel Bandcamp and other apps to pivot from their billing programs and adopt Google’s own framework.

Google unveiled the change in September of 2020, indicating that it was updating the Play Store payment terms “to be more explicit that all developers selling digital goods in their apps are required to use Google Play’s billing system.”

A July of 2021 delay pushed back the deadline for compliance with the new rule until March 31st of this year, and Google subsequently communicated that on “June 1, 2022, any app that is still not compliant will be removed from Google Play.”

By using Play’s billing system, the impacted apps would have to “pay a revenue share to Google,” Bandcamp CEO Ethan Diamond emphasized in a different blog post. Consequently, the Epic subsidiary, in seeking a preliminary injunction preventing its takedown, maintained that it would need to absorb the associated fee, pass this fee onto consumers and/or musicians, or cut digital sales on Android altogether.

As mentioned at the outset, Epic and Google have negotiated a pact that will keep Bandcamp on the Play Store for the time being.

According to the corresponding filing, which Digital Music News obtained, Google won’t “remove from, de-list, refuse to list on, or otherwise make unavailable the Bandcamp app on the Google Play Store.”

Additionally, the tech giant has agreed not to “reject, unreasonably delay, or refuse to distribute updates of the Bandcamp app, on the basis that the Bandcamp app or updates to the app offer in-app purchases of digital goods or services through means other than Google Play’s billing system.”

But starting on June 1st, Epic is poised to begin paying into “a mutually acceptable escrow account, on a monthly basis, the applicable fee under the DDA” – the Google Play Developer Distribution Agreement, that is, with the charge coming in at 10 percent – “on all revenue collected for in-app transactions of digital goods and services in the Bandcamp app,” the legal text explains.

If, when the high-stakes lawsuits wrap, the final judgement is in Google’s favor and exceeds the amount held in escrow, Epic will have to turn over these funds and cover the difference. In the event that Google wins a judgement for less than the capital within the escrow account, Epic will hold onto the difference, besides receiving the entirety of the sum if it wins outright, of course.

Bandcamp CEO Ethan Diamond in his previously highlighted blog post signaled that Epic “will bear” the 10 percent charge on digital transactions on Android, thereby “paying artists the same share of sales.”