iTunes Users License Songs, Not Buy Them, Court Rules

In a breakthrough ruling US federal court has stated that songs from iTunes are licensed, not purchased.

The Ninth Circuit US Court of Appeals has ruled that users who get their songs from Apple's music service iTunes do not purchase them, but receive a license to play them, the Wall Street Journal has reported.

The ruling has come to light, after rapper Eminem filed a lawsuit against record label Universal Music Group over the digital rights and royalty payments of his songs.

The difference between licensed and purchased songs is notable as under rights to royalty, music artists are paid 50 per cent when their tracks are licensed by a user, whereas only 30 per cent is paid when a purchase is made.

Universal has announced its intention to appeal the decision.

"We will be filing a petition for rehearing. It should be noted that this ruling sets no legal precedent as it only concerns the language of one specific recording agreement. Any assertion to the contrary is simply not true,” the record label said.