The nitty-gritty details of Sony’s deal with Spotify paint a picture
of a very lopsided negotiation indeed, with Sony commanding an
unbelievable “most favored nation” status from the streaming music
provider that entitles it to top-up payments to match other labels whose
music is more popular on the service.
The Verge obtained and published a copy of the contract – possibly from the Sony email dump
– but subsequently removed it after a copyright complaint (presumably
from Sony, though it’s possible that Spotify, or law-firms working for
either company, could have asserted copyright in the documents).
The copyright complaint is at least as eyebrow raising as anything in
the contract. Copyright is only attracted to creative, not factual or
functional works, meaning that any copyright in the contract will be
“thin.” In addition, there are strong, recent precedents for the idea that posting entire newsworthy documents for the purpose of discussion and criticism is fair use.
Digital Music Review has called for copies from anyone who may have saved them.
Even without the contract itself, there’s one clear conclusion from the
details revealed in the article: the labels do not lack for revenue from
the streaming music companies. If artists are getting shafted on
payouts for streams of their music – and it’s clear that they are –
it’s because the labels are screwing them, not because the streaming
companies aren’t paying out.
What?!? Record labels don’t pass through the money the get from streaming companies? Who could have suspected.