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Google Play Music Faces Royalties Law Suit

March 3, 2016 - Written By Dominik Bosnjak

Lawsuits come with the territory when you’re as big a company as Google is. However, this latest litigation started against the American tech company doesn’t come from a competitor, but John Emanuele of the electronic music duo American Dollar and his publisher Yesh Music who are claiming copyright infringement and unpaid royalties. The pair are suing online music streaming services Google Play, Slacker Radio, and Jay-Z’s Tidal for damages. Furthermore, all of the lawsuits filed in the last several days at the Southern District Court of New York were classified as class actions because Emanuele’s legal team believes more artists were cheated out of their royalties and are eligible for damages.

According to the filing against Google Play which was officially submitted yesterday, Google served Emanuele with two notices of intention (NOIs) covering four of the tracks he uploaded to Google Play Music. Google is obligated to serve NOIs regarding each song uploaded to its streaming service within 30 days of the original upload date and the first issue Emanuele has with the ones he has received is that they “failed to account for the vast majority of tracks” he and his partners offered to Google. Furthermore, the ones that he did receive were allegedly invalid as they were apparently pre-dated and were not served “remotely close” to the aforementioned 30-day period. That’s not all, as even if valid, the controversial NOIs only provided a year-long streaming license and were not renewed and the class action suit claims Google kept playing the songs in question even after that period had ended. To top it all off, while Emanuele claims Google only declared its intentions regarding four of his songs and even though the terms it offered weren’t agreed to by him, the company “dumped” all 116 of uploaded songs into its streaming service and played them while not paying a cent in royalties to this date.

Google has officially declined to comment on the lawsuit which concludes that the company willfully and intentionally infringed on Emanuele’s mechanical rights, i.e. those which allow for reproduction of his music. The class action demands between $30,000 and $150,000 in damages for each Google’s wilful infringement per composition, which means its value amounts to between $3.48 and $17.4 million. While music licensing is a convoluted beast that most artists agree is really hard to navigate through, things in this case definitely aren’t looking good for Google Play which has been streaming music since last June if even half of Emanuele’s claims turn out to be true.