Business News Digital Labels & Publishers Legal

US music publishers are going after unlicensed apps, starting with Vinkle

By | Published on Monday 20 June 2022


A group of music publishers rallied together by the US National Music Publishers Association last week filed a lawsuit with the courts in San Francisco against the Chinese owner of Vinkle, an app which describes itself as a ‘music video maker’.

The lawsuit alleges that Vinkle is built upon a huge catalogue of unlicensed music. According to Billboard, legal reps for the publishers argue that “apps like Vinkle, in today’s social media environment, are becoming increasingly aggressive in misappropriating music owned by members of the music publishing community”.

“These apps simply take the music and earn significant profits off the backs of songwriters and music publishers”, they add, “all the while knowing – but disregarding – that they must obtain a licence to use the music, assuming they will never get caught”.

Fans of appy lawsuits of this kind might be in for a treat, because last week the boss of the NMPA, David Israelite, said that going after apps that use music without licence was now a priority for the trade group. Aside from organising the Vinkle litigation, it has also sent cease and desist letters to about 100 other app makers. Which sounds like fun.

Meanwhile, for those app makers who argue that licensing music is just far too complicated, the NMPA has also announced an alliance with Songclip, the company that aims to make it easier to access music for use in app products, which previously announced deals with Warner Music and Universal Music.