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Breaking: TikTok Ban Inches Closer to Reality In the US — House Passes Bill In Weekend Session, Senate Vote Looms

Breaking: TikTok Ban Inches Closer to Reality In the US — House Passes Bill In Weekend Session, Senate Vote Looms

The Capitol Building in Washington, DC: Ground zero for TikTok deliberations.

The ‘TikTok ban bill’ is back with a vengeance: The House of Representatives passed a modified bill on Saturday (April 20th) that could lead to a nationwide TikTok ban — or something close to it.

The vote saw the measure clear the chamber with overwhelming support (360-58), the second lopsided vote on the TikTok problem. The bill, which includes a measure that could effectively ban TikTok in the United States, now moves to the Senate, where a vote could come within a matter of days.

Digital Music News reported last week that the latest version of the TikTok ban bill extends the deadline for ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese parent company, to sell the app to a US-based buyer or face a forced shutdown in the United States. The new deadline of approximately nine months, with a potential three-month extension, provides additional time for negotiations.

But this is suddenly much bigger than TikTok. After a lull in the Senate, momentum for the bill accelerated when it was attached to a broader foreign aid package supporting Ukraine, Taiwan, and Israel, dramatically elevating its legislative priority.

Such is the horse-trading and re-packaging that often defines Congressional legislative deliberation — and leads to bills becoming law. On that note, President Biden has indicated his willingness to sign the bill into law despite the potential for significant legal challenges and far-reaching consequences for US-China relations.

What happens after TikTok gets banned in the US?

In this comprehensive white paper, DMN Pro breaks down the likely winners and losers in the music industry over the short and long terms. The breakdown spans major and indie labels, publishers, songwriters, various artist tiers, and sync platforms. If Congress hits delete on TikTok, here’s where you’ll likely stand.

The latest vote has been a surprise slap for ByteDance and its US-based TikTok executives. In the months leading up to this legislation, executives like TikTok CEO Shou Chew found themselves getting dragged through Congressional grill sessions, though the sentiment internally was that a ban was off the table. That assessment now turns out to be a critical miscalculation.

However, while the Senate is expected to pass the ban legislation, potential delays from opponents like Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) could arise. TikTok is also gearing up for a vigorous legal challenge against the bill.

On that front, courts typically defer to the government in national security matters, but TikTok may argue that the ban unfairly singles the company out, raising questions of constitutionality.

If the bill becomes law, TikTok’s headaches multiply. Finding a buyer willing to meet the massive price tag is difficult, compounded by China’s restrictions on exporting TikTok’s core algorithm technology. ByteDance and China have already indicated an unwillingness to sell TikTok, which would effectively result in a shutdown.

The push for banning TikTok stems from concerns that the Chinese government could exploit the app to collect user data, spread propaganda, or interfere in elections. Chew assured lawmakers that data was being treated carefully and not being shared with ByteDance. However, TikTok ex-employees have contradicted those claims and pointed to outright data-sharing with ByteDance’s Chinese headquarters.

What Will UGC Licensing Look Like After the UMG-TikTok War?

In this DMN Pro Weekly report, we offer an analysis of where the high-stakes impasse stands – and how the episode’s fallout could drive a fundamental shift in how music factors into the UGC space.

Looming in the background is the simmering standoff between Universal Music Group and TikTok — and Taylor Swift’s recent embrace of the platform.

The latest Congressional vote closely follows TikTok’s splashy partnership with Taylor Swift to promote her just-released album, The Tortured Poets Department. That makes sense for Team Taylor, though Universal Music Group hardly welcomed the news.

Swift, signed to Republic/UMG, was given the royal treatment by TikTok in a move that could easily be construed as a slap in the face for both UMG and the broader music industry. Once upon a time, Swift was a staunch defender of music valuation and artists’ rights, though perhaps those are now quaint ideological ideas for an artist of her stature.

TikTok’s direct engagement with Swift could also be seen as part of a broader attempt by TikTok to solidify its influence over the music industry by leveraging its extensive user base to overrule protests by labels, publishers, and other music IP stakeholders.

Separately, sources to Digital Music News have pointed to rekindled negotiations between UMG and TikTok, though progress appears to be plodding. DMN’s sources have also shared details of a possible legal attack against TikTok and its parent ByteDance, specifically over issues tied to repeat infringer violations and clear violations of DMCA regulations.

Incidentally, Elon Musk has also chimed in with his two cents, arguing on Saturday that a ban would set a dangerous precedent undermining free expression.

Musk tweeted, “In my opinion, TikTok should not be banned in the USA, even though such a ban may benefit the X platform. Doing so would be contrary to freedom of speech and expression. It is not what America stands for.”

(Separately, it should be noted that X/Twitter ranks highly on the music industry’s s—t list, thanks to a complete refusal to pay music royalties. Here’s a deep-dive into the latest on X/Twitter’s legal battle against the music industry, including the very real prospect that X will never pay for music rights.)

On a broader scale, the debate surrounding TikTok spotlights the ongoing tension between national security concerns and the protection of free speech rights in the digital age.

This complex issue raises questions about the extent of government power in regulating technology and social media platforms.

A forced sale or ban of TikTok in the US would be unprecedented, sending ripples through the global tech industry and potentially straining already tense US-China relations. China has signaled strong opposition to a TikTok sale, and retaliatory moves against US companies operating in China are a distinct possibility.

Beyond the serious music industry implications, this legislation would have far-reaching consequences for the future of social media, national security policy, and the complex power dynamics between the US and China — not to mention the fate of supermodels like Leah Halton.

Stay tuned for more fireworks.

Got a tip? Send it confidentially to Digital Music News via Signal — our handle is digitalmusicnews.07.

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