The DistroKid Dilemma: A Look at the Takedown Notice Turmoil

Just about every streaming platform now has some way to spot what if thinks are copyright infringements, and while that in itself is a good thing, it’s also not uncommon for mistakes to happen. We’ve all heard the stories about how an artist’s own song received a takedown notice even when the artist owns the copyright fair and square. Most platforms have a way that the copyright holder can protest the takedown and have it reversed, but what if you couldn’t do that? That’s what DistroKid users are dealing with right now, and it’s led to a class-action lawsuit.

Takedown notice on DistroKid

If you’re not aware, DistroKid is a platform that helps indie artists and labels distribute their music to streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music. The problem came recently when US indie music label Doeman Music Group Media raised concerns about DistroKid’s handling of takedown requests. These are requests made to a streaming service when someone believes their copyright has been infringed.

On The Surface It’s Simple Enough

The issue started when hip-hop artist Damien Wilson, also known as Frosty the Doeman, had a song taken down from various streaming platforms. The song “Scary Movie” featured just 3 seconds of vocals by another artist, Raquella “Rocky Snyda” George, and she was paid and given credit for her contribution to the song. After a personal disagreement, George requested that her name be removed from the song. Wilson refused, and George filed take-down notices on all streaming platform that DistroKid distributes to.

Then in January of 2021, DistroKid notified Wilson that Scary Movie, along with the entire EP it was on, had been removed from the streaming platforms when George “falsely represented that she was the copyright holder of the song Scary Movie.”

But It’s More Complicated Than That

That sounds like a dispute between two unhappy artists, but that’s where DistroKid comes in. The lawsuit alleges that DistroKid didn’t provide enough information for Wilson and his label to defend against the takedown notice. They claim DistroKid’s policies make it difficult for indie artists and labels to fight false copyright infringement claims.

The lawsuit argues that music distributors like DistroKid may not have a financial incentive to keep indie music online. They collect money upfront and annually, so once the music is posted, there’s little financial benefit for them to ensure the music stays up.

So, why does this matter? Well, the music industry is a tough place for indie artists and labels. They don’t have the same resources as major labels to fight these battles. If a major label artist, like Taylor Swift, had a song taken down, her label would quickly take action to keep the music online. But for indie artists, it’s not so simple.

This situation highlights a significant challenge for indie artists and labels. It’s a reminder of the importance of understanding the fine print when working with music distributors. And it’s a call for better policies to protect indie artists from false copyright claims.

As always, it’s crucial for artists to stay informed and understand their rights. The music industry can be a complex landscape, but with knowledge and awareness, indie artists can navigate it successfully.

Stay tuned for more updates on this story.

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