Based on communications and an open letter from the corporation, Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG) has announced that it is ending its license deal with TikTok.

The pullout might have major consequences for TikTok, the world’s largest music publisher, and it’s not obvious if a settlement can be made.

The conditions of UMPG’s connection with signed composers and performers are outlined in a contract that ends on January 31, 2024, according to a letter the company sent out on Thursday night (January 30). This implies that Universal Music Publishing Group will begin to remove the rights to its library on the enormous TikTok platform, absent a last-minute arrangement. There will also be a significant impact on a number of recordings linked to copyrights controlled by UMPG.

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In a letter to member songwriters, composers, sub-publishers, and other affiliated parties, UMPG said, “We are reaching out to trusted and valued partners throughout the globe to inform you that, despite our good faith efforts over the last several months, we are at an impasse in reaching a licensing agreement with TikTok and our current agreement ends tomorrow.”

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“We have been pushing them on three key issues—appropriate compensation for our artists and songwriters, safeguarding human artists from the detrimental effects of AI, and online safety for TikTok’s users—in our contract renewal discussions,” UMPG added.

The letter goes on, “TikTok proposed paying our artists and songwriters at a rate that is a fraction of the rate that similarly situated major social platforms play with respect to the issue of artist and songwriter compensation.” “TikTok accounts for only about 1% of our total revenue today, which is an indication of how little the platform pays artists and songwriters, despite its massive and growing user base, rapidly rising advertising revenues, and increasing reliance on music-based content.”

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UMPG claims TikTok is attempting to establish a music-based company without fairly compensating artists for their work. However, it also explored worries raised over the quick adoption of AI and data scraping for processing and parsing by large-language models.

“UMPG claims that TikTok is allowing a massive dilution of the royalty pool for human artists by allowing the platform to be overrun with recordings created by AI, and by creating tools to facilitate, advertise, and support AI music creation on the platform itself—and then demanding a contractual right for this content.” “[This] action essentially amounts to supporting AI to replace artists.”

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The music publisher also draws attention to the problem it perceives with TikTok’s capacity to control material on its network. The increasing number of “content adjaency issues,” or content that appears next to hate speech, prejudice, bullying, and harassment, is attributed to TikTok’s failure to provide “no meaningful solutions.”

“The process that’s comparable to the digital version of Whack-a-Mole is incredibly time-consuming and ineffective when it comes to requesting the removal of problematic or infringing content, like pornographic deepfakes of artists.”

The parties appear to be at odds with one another right now and to be quite far apart.

“During the course of our negotiations, TikTok endeavored to intimidate us into consenting to a deal that was significantly lower than fair market value, not commensurate with their rapid expansion,” the UMPG letter goes on. How did it attempt to frighten us? by deleting some of our up-and-coming artists’ music from the platform while leaving our audience-engaging international stars there.

“It is clear that TikTok’s strategy is to use its platform power to harm artists who are vulnerable and to scare us into accepting a bad deal that devalues music and underpays songwriters, artists, and their fans.”

“We’re not going to do that.”