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TuneIn Radio loses copyright appeal

March 29, 2021

By Chris Forrester

Music streaming service TuneIn has lost a long-running Copyright infringement appeal in the UK courts.

The London Court of Appeal has found in favour of an action brought in 2017 by Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music. The music giants argued that TuneIn lacked a licence to play music in the UK.

Back in November 2019 the Court partially favoured TuneIn and decided that radio stations licensed in the UK could be made available to the TuneIn service. However, the Court also found – perhaps confusingly – that TuneIn breached the music company’s copyrights.

The Court allowed appeals and they have now concluded. In quotes carried by Music Business Worldwide, the Court’s verdict was: “In summary the main judgment decided that the Defendant [TuneIn] a US technology company which operates an on-line platform providing a service enabling users to access radio stations around the world) had infringed the Claimants’ copyright in sound recordings of music when that music was played through the Defendant’s system (website and apps) from internet radio stations”.

Warner Music Group stated: “This appeal verdict is very welcome. We continue to hope that TuneIn will accept that it needs to operate on a fully licensed basis, fairly paying rights holders for the music it uses to generate revenue. Such a move would be to the benefit of rights holders and listeners in the UK and elsewhere. We stand ready to enter into licensing negotiations to help facilitate that outcome.”

Sony accused TuneIn of having acted “blatantly”, saying: “Globally the company continues to unlawfully profit from massive commercialisation of unlicensed copyrighted sound recordings by turning a blind eye to basic licensing requirements and seeking to hide behind safe harbour and other spurious technical claims to avoid paying music creators. Today’s ruling helps to ensure music creators are not deprived of compensation for their work, that TuneIn does not have an unfair competitive advantage in relation to licensed services, honours their legal obligations and respects the need for artists and record labels to receive a fair return on the essential value they provide.”

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