Well now, it seems that PRS for Music has taken legal action against Soundcloud. In an email sent out to PRS members, the body explains that “after careful consideration, and following five years of unsuccessful negotiations, we now find ourselves in a situation where we have no alternative but to commence legal proceedings against SoundCloud.”
PRS is responsible for collecting publishing royalties for musicians, for things like radio plays and public performances. The issue with SoundCloud stems from the fact that despite having over 175m unique listeners per month, SoundCloud “continues to deny it needs a PRS for Music licence for its existing service available in the UK and Europe, meaning it is not remunerating our members.”
PRS describes this move as a “difficult decision”, but “one we firmly believe is in the best, long-term interests of our membership.” In its letter of claim, PRS has identified 4,500 musical works by PRS members which are available on SoundCloud, “so that they understood the scale of our members’ repertoire and its use on the service. We asked them to take a licence to cover the use of all our members’ repertoire or otherwise stop infringing.”
This marks the latest step in a turbulent year for SoundCloud. DJs and producers who once relied on the platform have openly criticised it after a succession of mix takedowns, in many cases, it seems, due to pressure from Sony. Earlier this month, several high profile accounts were suspended or deleted due to copyright claims – in certain cases, over music that the uploader owned the rights to.