Licensing and eCommerce News: Tinder Forays into Creating Original Shows, WarnerMedia Buys Rights to Stream ‘The Big Bang Theory’ for USD 1 Billion, MLC Requires USD 66.5 Million Initial Funding, eCommerce Companies Accused of Violating FDI Norms, Deadline to Submit Feedback on Draft eCommerce Guidelines Extended, SoftBank Invests in Latin eCommerce Market, and more.
eCommerce Companies Accused of Violating FDI Norms
The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has recently stated that Amazon and Flipkart violated the Press Note No.2 of the FDI policy 2018, by hosting festival sales on their respective platforms. According to the FDI policy, e-commerce companies are not allowed to host sales and offer discounts, and are only allowed to conduct B2B business.
The CAIT spokesperson has asked the e-commerce companies to provide details of their top 10 vendors. Further, CAIT has stated that if the government does not take any direct action against the e-commerce platforms, then it will approach the courts for the appropriate remedy.
Deadline to Submit Feedback on Draft E-Commerce Guidelines Extended
After multiple requests from various stakeholders, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs has decided to extend the deadline for submitting feedback on the draft e-commerce guidelines, from 16th September to 31st October. The draft e-commerce guidelines which were notified last month are primarily directed at curbing the sale of counterfeit goods, streamlining returns and refunds, and delineating the liabilities of sellers and online marketplaces. These guidelines would also prevent e-commerce marketplaces from influencing the prices of products or engaging in ‘unfair or deceptive’ practices.
A majority of the stakeholders have asked for clarity on certain issues, like the definition of unfair trade practices, demarcation of marketplace versus inventory-led e-commerce and norms for advertising.
SoftBank Invests in Latin E-commerce Market
SoftBank, the Japanese multinational conglomerate, has recently invested USD 110 million in MadeiraMadeira, a Brazilian e-commerce company. This investment is directed towards developing technology, boosting logistics and improving the customer experience. MadeiraMadeira, which was founded in 2009, sells its own products and those of other merchants, and is expected to boost the digital transformation of Brazil’s growing home goods segment, with the financial backing of SoftBank.
Other investors including Light Street Capital and Flybridge Capital Partners backed the Brazilian e-commerce startup in its initial period, when it raised USD 38.8 million.
Tinder Forays into Creating Original Shows
Dating app Tinder recently completed the shooting one of its first television shows, as it gradually expands its services into creating scripted original content. Tinder has a larger plan for the future which includes launching an online platform to stream this content. The first show will be a multi-episode series and was filmed in Mexico City, in August. The show, centers on an “apocalyptic” storyline and includes a relationship sub-plot but is not directly connected to Tinder’s core dating app business.
Prior to this, Tinder launched a lifestyle website called Swipe Life last October, to publish original content including articles and videos about dating and relationships. Through this move Tinder could engage users on a deeper level even when they are not using the service. Foraying into streaming platforms seems to be the next best strategy in the US, with brands like Walmart and Costco collaborating with other production houses to create original content.
WarnerMedia Buys Rights to Stream ‘The Big Bang Theory’ for USD 1 Billion
WarnerMedia has recently bought the licensing rights to stream the hit CBS sitcom ‘The Big Bang Theory’, for USD 1 billion. This show will be streamed on the new HBO Max streaming service. About a day before WarnerMedia closed the deal with CBS, Netflix bought the rights to stream another hit show, ‘Seinfeld’, for USD 500 million. Other large deals include NBCUniversal paying USD 500 million for exclusive US streaming rights for workplace-comedy “The Office”, and HBO Max paying out USD 425 million over five years (USD 85 million per year) to move mega-hit Friends from Netflix to its own platform.
However, experts question the current trend of production houses buying streaming rights for a few hit TV series for enormous sums. This is because streaming one hit show does not necessarily guarantee an increase in the number of subscribers for the platform, as consumers periodically switch from one streaming service to another. The increase in bidding wars has also led streaming platforms to produce more original content, which gives them greater returns.
MLC Requires USD 66 Million Initial Funding
The MLC which was created by the Music Modernization Act (MMA), which was inked into law by President Trump in October 2018, has requested the US Copyright Office for granting funds worth USD 66.25 million, in order to start its operations. This is a huge starting amount for an agency that is yet to be formed. The main aim of the agency is to collect, process, and pay mechanical streaming licenses specifically to US-based publishers and songwriters.
The MLC proposal, which was made public on September 17th, has been backed by major publishers which include major publishers like Sony/ATV, Warner Chappell, and Universal Music. These publishers have insisted that their estimate was both efficient” and “effective”. The proposal has been put together after months of research by the Copyright Royalties Board (CRB), to determine the most efficient and effective way to serve the needs of both the songwriters and their music publishers, as well as the digital music services.
However, the entire amount of the investment will not be provided by the U.S. Government and it will be the major streaming platforms and tech behemoths like Spotify, Apple, Amazon, Google/Alphabet, and others who will pay the larger share of modest start-up fortune. However, certain music streaming platforms may be asked by major music publishers to withhold streaming mechanical payments to songwriters and publishers who claim them, and instead allocate the money towards the MLC fund.
Authored and compiled by Neharika Vhatkar and Ashwini Arun (Associates, BananaIP Counsels)
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