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Insider July 7, 2022 — Lewis Black is the latest comedian to sue Pandora

Plus, Deezer flounders, and Acast cuts a new deal with The New York Times

Apologies for the late newsletter, we had a little scoop situation going on as you’ll see below.

I hope you all had a nice break. We had fabulous weather in New York for a change, and I am still kind of crispy from embracing it a little too enthusiastically. To my UK readers, congrats on Boris (or condolences, but… probably not). 

Today, Lewis Black is suing Pandora for copyright infringement, Twitter seems to be building an in-app podcast player, and Deezer is floundering on the stock market.

SCOOP: Lewis Black sues Pandora for $10 million over copyright infringement

Comedian Lewis Black filed suit against SiriusXM-owned audio streamer Pandora on Thursday, arguing that the company ran recordings of his performances without obtaining the copyright to his written work. 

It is the latest escalation in the messy fight between comedians, streamers, and the performing rights organizations that have recently stepped in to standardize spoken-word copyright in the digital age. This suit, along with several others filed against Pandora, seeks back pay for millions of dollars worth of publishing royalties and to fundamentally change the way copyright for comedy functions. If the comedians win, it could have major ramifications for Pandora, Spotify, and other audio streamers.

Losing is a very, very expensive proposition for Pandora. Black is suing for $150,000 for each allegedly infringed work for a total of $10.2 million. Including the amounts sought by other plaintiffs like Andrew Dice Clay and the estate of Robin Williams, Pandora could be on the hook for a total of more than $70 million. It could also set a precedent that will enable other comedians to sue streamers for similar damages.

We’ll have more on the suit tomorrow, but for now, you can check out my story on The Verge.

A sneak peek of Twitter’s possible podcast player

Facebook may be through with podcasting, but Twitter is (allegedly) going all in. The company is working on an in-app podcast player, according to a clip discovered by code researcher Jane Manchun Wong. The snippet shows a hub that hosts podcasts and Twitter Spaces in the same place. It follows news she broke in March that Twitter was developing a podcast tab.

While the clip appears to be legitimate, it’s no guarantee that we will see the feature in action. Things at Twitter are pretty up in the air right now thanks to Elon Musk’s maybe-takeover of the company, and it was reported last month that the company was scaling back resources dedicated to Twitter Spaces. The company declined to provide further details to Hot Pod on the feature and has not made any kind of announcement on podcasting. For those who do want to see Twitter become a podcast platform, let’s just hope Elon is into it. At minimum, he is a Rogan fan.

French streamer Deezer has a not-so-great IPO

Deezer, once a competitor to Spotify, flopped when it went public via SPAC on Wednesday. The French audio streamer (which hosts podcasts in addition to music) is trading nearly 35 percent below its IPO price, with a total value of just over $620 million. Its less-than-stellar market debut points to how difficult it is for smaller streamers to compete.

Deezer has 9.6 million subscribers. It’s not nothing, but it’s pretty paltry compared to Spotify’s 182 million. Throw in other dominant players like Apple, Amazon, YouTube, and Tencent, and investors are reportedly skeptical of the company’s capacity to gain ground. And given all the market turmoil and poor track record of SPACs, maybe this was not the wisest time to go public (or, as I’ve been dying for an opportunity to say — in this economy?!). 

Acast cuts ad rep deal with The New York Times for its podcasts in the UK

Swedish podcast company Acast will handle ad sales for The New York Times’ podcasts in the UK, the company announced on Tuesday. It’s another big name that Acast is adding to its roster of partner news outlets, like the BBC, The Economist, and The Financial Times. The deal also indicates where Acast’s business priorities are — distribution and ad sales — having discontinued its podcast app this spring.

Anthony Weiner has a podcast now

Don’t call it a comeback! (No, really, please don’t).

That’s all for now! See you tomorrow.