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PopArabia sues Anghami over allegedly unlicensed songs

By | Published on Monday 27 February 2023


Streaming service Anghami – a key player in the Middle East and North Africa region – has been sued by PopArabia and its partner Reservoir Media for allegedly streaming songs without licence.

The lawsuit was seemingly filed late last year with the courts in Abu Dhabi – where both Anghami and PopArabia are based – with Billboard seeing a copy of the legal filing and reporting on the dispute last week.

Streaming services, of course, need licences covering both recordings and the songs contained in those recordings, with the two sets of music rights generally licensed separately. The song rights are licensed by a combination of music publishers and collecting societies, with the specifics varying according to market and repertoire.

The lawsuit identifies twelve specific tracks being streamed by Anghami where PopArabia and Reservoir have an interest in the song rights and which, they claim, have not been properly licensed by the streaming service. However, it’s alleged, that’s just a sample that is indicative of wider issues around the licensing of song rights by the streaming service.

Anghami did previously have a licensing deal in place with French collecting society SACEM, which possibly covered a significant catalogue of songs, especially in the digital firm’s core MENA markets. However, that licence expired in 2019 and talks about renewal have been ongoing ever since.

Licensing talks have also been ongoing for a few years between Anghami and PopArabia. But the latter seemingly reached a point where it felt the former was never going to actually do the deal. Its lawsuit seeks an injunction ordering Anghami to stop infringing its rights as well as lots of lovely damages.

Commenting on the litigation, Saurabh Poddar, Anghami’s Head Of Licensing, told Billboard that the company was keen to secure licences from all music rights owners and not just the biggest players. However, alluding to some of the complexities around licensing song rights in particular, he added that the digital firm has certain conditions that it expects licensors to meet.

“Despite having this claim for a handful of songs, we assert that Anghami is more than willing to sign a licence with publishers no matter how small or big they are”, he stated, “as long as such licence is negotiated and implemented with a scientific method with regards to identification of actual market share, legal capacity and provided representation is confirmed, especially in the case of a sub-publisher”.