Posts Tagged ‘TikTok’
February 8th, 2024 at 12:35 pm
TikTok’s Latest Assault: Ripping Off American Artists and Songwriters
Posted by Print

Americans are by now broadly aware of the threat posed by Chinese-owned TikTok, including its threat to U.S. national security.

In recent days, we’ve witnessed in real time another emerging TikTok threat reaching the headlines:  The threat it poses to intellectual property protections, which undergird America’s status as the most artistically and musically productive and influential nation in human history.

Universal Music Group, however, has decided to stand up and fight back by removing its catalog of songs – including artists like Taylor Swift, Drake and Billie Eilish – from TikTok.

Tone-Deaf TikTok has built its aggressive worldwide empire largely on the backs of music created by American artists, as even its corporate leadership openly admits.  As TikTok’s very own “Year in TikTok 2021 Music Report” states in its opening sentence, “Music is at the heart of the TikTok experience.”

Those are its own words.  Indeed, TikTok content features music to a degree beyond other social media platforms.

As the contractual relationship between Universal and TikTok approached its end on January 31, TikTok decided to play hardball by proposing to compensate songwriters and artists a fraction of what other social media platforms pay, essentially disregarding its reliance on music-based content amid ascending advertising revenues and user base.

In other words, TikTok demands a right to build a music-reliant business without paying fair market value for that music on which it relies.

Songwriters and performing artists invest enormous amounts of time, talent and resources in creating their original works of art.  In so doing, those artists and songwriters obtain intellectual property rights in their creations.  By leveraging its massive and growing worldwide power, TikTok seeks to exploit those creative works for its own benefit without just compensation.  That violates the artists’ intellectual property rights, which have provided the fuel by which America became the world’s leader in music influence.  Artists deserve fair compensation for the use of their creations, and TikTok cannot be allowed to jeopardize America’s system of IP protections.

It also merits emphasis that TikTok’s behavior threatens emerging artists and songwriters most of all.  Whereas established artists often possess other potential revenue sources, emerging artists and songwriters rely more heavily upon royalties and fair compensation for their works.  Consequently, TikTok’s refusal to fairly compensate for use of music in expanding its platform will stifle growth of new musicians and restrict their ability to sustain careers in an already competitive industry.

TikTok has made many enemies, and its behavior in this instance helps illustrate why that’s the case.  It is inherently unfair and improper for TikTok to use its vast and growing control to exploit songwriters’ and musical artists’ creations to amass even more profits and expand its worldwide reach without offering fair compensation to those creative minds who play such an outsized role in its business model and growth.

Universal Music Group merits applause for standing up to TikTok, which may inspire others in positions of power to follow its lead.