Remember that song “Bound 2” by Kanye West?
If you aren’t a fan because of Kanye’s sweet lyrics (Leave a pretty girl, sad reputation. Start a fight club, Brad reputation), then you may be familiar with it because of the inclusion of a sample from the 1971 song “Bound” by Ponderosa Twins Plus One – or the 2013 lawsuit that the aforementioned inclusion sparked.
A Little Background…
Three years ago, The Ponderosa Twins’ “plus one” Ricky Spicer sued Kanye West, Rock-A-Fella Records, Universal Music Group and Island Def Jam for illegally using his sound recording. West settled the lawsuit last year, but now Spicer has a problem with several streaming services still playing “Bound 2,” as well as some of his own, original material, without his permission.
So, What’s Going On This Time?
All the big names in streaming are included in this one. IHeartMedia, Spotify, Google, Apple, Pandora, Sony, Deezer and Soundcloud have been accused of violating Spicer’s rights since he owns the copyrights to “Bound” and isn’t being paid royalties for the use of his material. But, the suit isn’t being filed solely on his behalf. Spicer is looking for class certification so he can represent anyone whose pre-1972 (more on this soon) recordings are being used without their consent.
As it turns out, any sound recordings created after February 15, 1972 are covered by federal copyright laws, but anything recorded before that (like “Bound”) has to be dealt with on the state level – in this case, New York common law. (Back in April, we wrote about the streaming services that allegedly failed to acquire the mechanical licenses necessary to play certain songs and what the law says about copyright infringement. You can check that out here, by the way.) This new suit, however, is looking to cover artists who aren’t protected by federal laws. Here’s who the complaint defines as the proposed class:
All owners of reproduction and public performance rights in the Pre-1972 Recordings that have been publicly performed, copied, or otherwise exploited by Defendants, without a license or other authorization, in the marketing, sale, and provision of internet and terrestrial radio services.”
As far as relief for the affected parties goes, the lawsuit is asking that all profits made from the use of pre-1972 recordings be taken away from the defendants and used to compensate the artists – as well as to pay attorneys’ fees and court costs.
How Do You Think the Case Will Go?
You always know exactly what to ask! Well, I’m no lawyer, and we’ll have to wait for a court decision to know anything for sure. That being said, if this suit follows the same pattern as the case three years ago and the mechanical license lawsuits from earlier this year, there’s a good chance that Spicer and those he looks to represent will see a settlement sometime in the future.
Whether or not you’ll still get to hear your favorite pre-1972 tunes on the big streaming services is still up for discussion, though. A potential settlement could either force the music machines of today to stop playing the songs they don’t have the licenses for or allow them to play while the necessary permissions are acquired.