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Spotify Removes Content From Comedians Including Kevin Hart, John Mulaney Over Royalties Dispute

Published 5 months ago
By Forbes
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TOPLINE

The audio streaming service Spotify has removed content from hundreds of comedians, including Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish and John Mulaney, amid a dispute over royalties and copyright, according to the Wall Street Journal.

KEY FACTS

The comedians are working with a global rights administration company, Spoken Giants, to negotiate royalty payments for composition copyright of their jokes with streaming services like Spotify, Youtube and Pandora, according to the Journal.

With a deal yet to be reached, Spotify told Spoken Giants that the content would be taken down the day before Thanksgiving.

Comedians get paid performance fees when recordings are played on a streaming service like Spotify, Apple or YouTube, but they don’t receive royalties for having written the jokes like songwriters do for their songs.

Spotify did not immediately respond to Forbes’ request for comment, but told the Wall Street Journal, the company has paid “significant amounts of money” for comedy content and wants “to continue” doing so.

KEY BACKGROUND

Spoken Giants, which launched in 2019, claims on its website to be the”first global rights administration company” for “spoken word copyrights,” and represents comedians, podcast authors and speech writers. The company’s pilot program collected over $100,000 in royalties on behalf of initial members, including comedians Lewis Black, Gerry Dee and Dan Cummins. 

TANGENT

Conflicts over copyright and royalties continue in the music industry. In March, over 300 songwriters  wrote an open letter demanding that artists stop “using bully tactics and threats” to infringe on a songwriter’s royalties for writing top songs. Artists like Taylor Swift have also been fighting to regain a larger share of the royalties to their music by re-recording and releasing new versions of songs. Private equity firm Shamrock Capitol currently owns the masters of some of Swift’s albums she released under Big Hit Music.

By Kimberlee Speakman, Forbes Staff

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