Google sued for allegedly streaming unlicensed music on YouTube Music and Google Play Music

YouTube Music on a Pixel 4 XL
YouTube Music on a Pixel 4 XL (Image credit: Joe Maring / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google has been sued for copyright infringement by Pro Music Rights LLC.
  • The suit is a result of allegedly failing to properly license music for their platforms.
  • Google currently offers two streaming services, YouYube Music and Google Play Music.

Google is getting sued for copyright infringement on both its Google and YouTube Music services by royalty collection firm, Pro Music Rights. The firm announced this lawsuit today, additionally targeting Apple, Amazon, SoundCloud, Pandora, Deezer, 7digital, iHeartradio, and Rhapsody alongside Google and YouTube (named as separate entities.)

Pro Music Rights CEO Jake P. Noch gave the following comment:

Each of the music streaming services sued has made a business decision to use music without compensating songwriters. By filing these actions, Pro Music Rights is standing up for songwriters whose creative works bring great value to all streaming services who publicly perform their music. Pro Music Rights will not give up the fight, no matter how long it wages.

When it comes to YouTube, streaming licensed music is more complicated than it should be. Google's YouTube Music service combines both user-sourced (read: pirated) music and officially licensed music. It's possible that this may have led to some music streams not being properly compensated, even as users pay Google to deal with those logistics.

As per Android Central's Ara Wagoner's prescient editorial:

"There's no easy fix for this. People are going to upload new albums (and old albums), but if YouTube worked with record labels, it could be easier to sift through the bottomless void of YouTube videos to sort videos between fair use and pirated upload. YouTube and record labels could work together to ensure that when music fans come to YouTube looking for their favorite artist or favorite soundtrack, they get the official content, the concert recordings and fan covers rather than fan rip-offs.

In the meantime, it's going to be quite a challenge for Pro Music Rights to go up against not just Google's lawyers, but Apple and Spotify's as well. With the amount of DMCA'ing going on, it's hard to deny that Google has been making a good faith effort to protect the copyright of artists.

That the artists and their representatives feel otherwise is hard to dispute, whether they can prove it to the courts is a different matter entirely.

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