SoundCloud has begun removing material from user accounts, in some cases deleting accounts entirely. This comes in response to increasing pressure from record labels on the service to ink licensing deals for hosting copyrighted content.
A new report has cited various examples of SoundCloud removing user accounts and content that it claims or suspects to be in violation of copyright law. SoundCloud has started to take down DJ mixes containing unlicensed samples or material, specific tracks or songs containing unauthorized samples and bootleg remixes of songs. The company claims it is compelled to comply with current laws regarding the material:
"We can't comment on specific rights holders, but we're happy to host any content on the platform as long as it's properly authorized. If we're told that any content has been posted without permission, we need to remove that content in accordance with applicable law."
A European collection agency is reportedly pressuring SoundCloud to remove any material for which the European publishing rights have not been cleared. SoundCloud is contacting account holders with a message requiring them to prove legal ownership of the alleged violating tracks or mixes, specifically that they have "cleared all publishing rights – including mechanical rights AND public performance rights – in all territories where the tracks have been made available."
SoundCloud is apparently utilizing a three-strike system for the offending account holders. If they cannot prove they satisfy the legal ownership requirements, they receive a strike. After receiving a third strike, the user's account is completely taken down.
In wake of the policy, several SoundCloud users have complained that they have had material removed or their accounts suspended, in spite of legally owning the rights to the music in question. Dummy magazine claims its account was removed after being given three strikes, due to complaints by Sony.
The people at the magazine, however. state that they "have only ever uploaded music that Sony [has] sent us to promote, so it seems ridiculous that they would want to shut down our account and prevent us from supporting new music signed to their label in the future."
Additionally, they said they were told their account could be restored if they resolve the issue with Sony, but were also told that Sony specifically instructed SoundCloud not to divulge the person or department within the company to contact in order to do so.