Yahoo! Triumphs In Sony BMG Launchcast Infringement Suit
Yahoo!’s Launchcast is not liable to Sony BMG Music Entertainment for copyright infringement according to a New York jury. After a six-year litigation, the jury decided that Launchcast was not required to negotiate licenses as an “interactive” service with Sony BMG Music Entertainment. Instead, the service’s compulsory licenses as a “non-interactive” service, which it obtained from SoundExchange, were sufficient. The jury found Yahoo! not liable for copyright infringement.
The trial focused on the mirky aspect of when an online music service crosses the threshold from non-interactive to interactive. While most experts agree that a service is interactive when a user can select and play a particular song on demand, it has been unclear whether a service that customizes playlists for a user is interactive or non-interactive. An interactive service requires the digital company to negotiate licenses with the copyright owners of sound recordings at negotiated prices; a non-interactive service may obtain a compulsory license – with or without the owner’s permission – from SoundExchange at rates set by law.
Sony BMG will, of course, appeal.