John Mulaney, Jim Gaffigan, Tiffany Haddish and Kevin Hart are among the big name comedians whose work has been removed from streaming service Spotify in a fight over royalty payments.
The dispute centers on a group of entertainers who are attempting to be paid a copyright royalty for jokes they wrote when they are played on radio and digital service providers such as Spotify, SiriusXM, Pandora and YouTube.
The effort to win the royalties is being led by global rights administrator Spoken Giants. That organization wants to collect royalties for underlying composition copyrights of spoken-word media. They point to songwriters, who are paid for use of their music and lyrics.
When negotiations broke down, Spotify removed the comedian content.
The Wall Street Journal reported that comics currently are paid as performers on a digital service through their label or distributor and digital performance rights organization SoundExchange. But they aren’t paid as writers of the work, which Spoken Giants calls their literary rights.
Spoken Giants began reaching out to streaming services and satellite and terrestrial radio in the spring. Other services and radio companies have been talking with Spoken Giants. After some negotiations with Spotify, Spoken Giants said it received an email on the eve of Thanksgiving saying it would remove works represented by the organization until an agreement could be reached.
“Spotify does provide entertainers with exposure and access to large audiences. So having their work taken down is harmful to each individual creator,” said CEO Jim King, a former BMI executive.
Spotify responded by stating it has paid “significant amounts of money for the content in question, and would love to continue to do so.”
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