Campaigners seeking to secure fair rights and royalties across streaming platforms have most recently turned their attention to SoundCloud. Until now the Berlin-based company had avoided most of the flak but now their strategy of offering a ‘flagging’ feature to rights holders rather than identifying offending material themselves has run out of favour.
To their credit, when threatened by major labels with a flood of DMCA notices regarding copyrighted material, SoundCloud agreed to negotiate a solution. With the company on the verge of expansion in the new technological landscape, they couldn’t afford to take a hit.
SoundCloud had no legal obligation to flag infringing material, and policing such a large body of content would be a mammoth undertaking, but they still chose to back down. This is perhaps explained by the fact that SoundCloud aren’t a Google or an Apple. They don’t have limitless funds at their disposal to fight law suits whenever they arise. As a result most music lovers see SoundCloud as the lesser of various evils in the race towards a mutually profitable streaming service.
(Speaking of Google, it’s widely assumed that the Californian-based monolith would intervene if this particular issue reached court since any precedents set would affect their future business interests.)
The people’s voice
Public opinion on the issue is split quite evenly down the middle. Some people strongly believe that the music industry has every right to claim what is rightly its property. Others, meanwhile, worry that censoring the internet and its services is a dangerous precedent to set, and if credit is given to the original artist then the free promotion is enough.
Undoubtedly services like SoundCloud are popular. But while these issues remain unresolved they will continue to anger both artists and users. American DJ and Producer Kaskade represented the frustration of musicians when he recently launched an online tirade after SoundCloud reportedly removed 70% of his content.
Ultimately everyone knows that change is imminent and being on the right side of that change could be the difference between survival and extinction. Who will truly benefit once the dust settles remains uncertain, but as the fight intensifies it seems the answer will become clear soon enough.