Songs by Universal Music Artists Ariana Grande, Camila Cabello, and Niall Horan Remain on TikTok Despite Ban

Songs from several Universal Music artists, including Ariana Grande, Camila Cabello, and Niall Horan, are available on TikTok despite the ban.

Songs from several Universal Music artists, including Ariana Grande, Camila Cabello, and Niall Horan, are available on TikTok despite the ban.
Photo: Via Variety, Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

The clash between Universal Music Group (UMG) and TikTok over royalty payments and content moderation has led to a substantial reduction in music availability on the platform.

However, recent developments indicate a persistence of UMG artists’ songs on TikTok despite the ban, raising questions about enforcement mechanisms and legal loopholes.

At the heart of the issue lies the complex landscape of music rights on social media platforms.

Unlike streaming services where rights holders have tighter control over content, TikTok allows virtually anyone to upload music, which then appears as an “original sound.” This decentralized approach complicates enforcement for rights holders like UMG, who rely on takedown notices to manage unauthorized use of their music.

TikTok’s detection software, while formidable, can be circumvented through alterations such as pitch or tempo adjustments. This loophole has enabled songs by popular UMG artists like Ariana Grande, Camila Cabello, and Niall Horan to evade detection and continue circulating on the platform.

Furthermore, UMG’s decision to withhold information about new releases from TikTok has exacerbated the situation, limiting the platform’s ability to preemptively address unauthorized uploads.

The situation is further complicated by performances of UMG artists on platforms like “Saturday Night Live” (SNL). It remains unclear whether such performances are subject to the same legal terms as officially released UMG songs.

If a song performed on SNL is not owned or administered by UMG, TikTok’s detection software may not flag it for removal, contributing to the persistence of UMG music on the platform.

In response to inquiries, TikTok representatives have remained tight-lipped, with at least one song being removed promptly upon notification by media outlets.

UMG, on the other hand, has criticized TikTok’s detection software in a letter to artists, citing a lack of effort in addressing copyright infringement and other content moderation issues on the platform.

The letter underscores the challenges faced by rights holders in navigating TikTok’s content ecosystem and emphasizes UMG’s commitment to protecting the creative and commercial value of music.

As the standoff between UMG and TikTok continues, the future of music availability on the platform remains uncertain. The ongoing dispute may ultimately hinge on negotiations between the two parties or legislative intervention by Congress.

Meanwhile, users and artists alike navigate the evolving landscape of digital content sharing, highlighting the complexities of copyright enforcement in the age of social media.

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