‘Fortnite’ could be forced to pay royalties for featuring popular music

“It is really important for us to have a level playing field."

Musicians are reportedly launching efforts to use new copyright laws to secure a cut of royalties from music featured in the hugely popular world of online gaming.

PRS for Music (the organisation that ensures some 140,000 songwriters, composers and publishers receive royalties across the globe) say that payments rose to a record breaking £746m last year.

While PRS secured royalties from 11.2 trillion performance of music, including streaming and downloads, it marked a a 70% increase on 2017.

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But as the likes of Marshmello begin to perform cyber gigs in games such as Fortnite, PRS chief executive Robert Ashcroft said he is investigating whether licensing deals should be agreed for the use of music in multiplayer games – with Fortnite currently boasting some 250 million registered users worldwide.

According to The Guardian, Mr Ashcroft believes that the newly implemented European Copyright Directive could see online gaming becoming a source of music royalty revenue for the first time.

The new laws, which are opposed by the likes of Google and Facebook, could see tech giants securing licenses from the music industry before being allowed to use their content online.

“We currently license a lot of digital services, like YouTube music, already anyway,” Ashcroft said.

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“It is really important for us to have a level playing field for these services that we don’t yet have licences, such as music used in the massive multiplayer online gaming market, like Fortnite. That is one of the areas we will be looking at. Does that fall within the new provisions of the law? Is that an opportunity [for licensing revenues]? [The new law] clarifies the liability of key technology platforms to pay for their use of copyright material.”

This comes after it was revealed that royalty revenue from songs played on streaming giants such as Spotify and Apple Music have climbed to £145.7m.

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