Chinese social media video app TikTok is currently under intense scrutiny in the US over its recently-revealed censorship policies - senator Marco Rubio having called for a formal investigation into the company. Now the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) has backed that call, while suggesting that TikTok’s approach to music copyright should also be within the scope of any such investigation.
NMPA claimed in a letter: “In addition to important censorship concerns, it appears that TikTok has consistently violated U.S. copyright law and the rights of songwriters and music publishers. Many videos uploaded to TikTok incorporate musical works that have not been licensed and for which copyright owners are not being paid. While some publishers have been able to negotiate with TikTok to license their catalogs, a large part of our industry does not have agreements in place meaning numerous works continue to be used unlawfully as the platform’s popularity grows exponentially”. The letter also referred to claims that TikTok has been downloaded more than 1bn times. “It is deeply concerning to our industry that a company so large which has a model that fundamentally integrates musical works can get away with not lawfully compensating copyright owners.”
TikTok has responded with a statement focusing on those licensing deals so far: “TikTok has broad licensing coverage across the music publishing industry covering many thousands of publishers and songwriters and millions of copyrights, and has paid royalties since its inception. The platform has spurred the success of artists and songwriters worldwide through its viral meme culture, driving chart hits and building household names. We are proud to engage with and support the music community”.
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