Just last month, Epic Games announced to purchase it the music platform Bandcamp. Now, Bandcamp is the latest reason Epic Games is taking legal action against Google, this time over the tech giant’s crackdown on Android app billing.
Epic Games has filed an injunction seeking to prevent Google from removing the Bandcamp app from the Play Store. Currently Bandcamp violates Google’s terms for billing Android apps by not using Play Store billing.
In a blog post, Bandcamp co-founder Ethan Diamond points out that Bandcamp has had its own billing system for Android since 2015, allowing artists to sell their music and merchandise to fans. For the past few years, this usage has complied with Google’s guidelines for digital music services. However, Google has tightened its billing rules over the past year, and starting June 1, Bandcamp and Apps like it would have to pay Google’s 30 percent cut on in-app sales. However there The edge points out that Bandcamp appears to have offered an offer with a 10% cut. Google confirmed in a statement that this was part of last year’s Android billing policy updates, as detailed here.
Still, Epic and Bandcamp argue that any cuts from Google would hurt its ability to pay out to artists or drive up costs for buyers. Diamond explains in a post, emphasizing our own:
If Google’s policy changes remain in place as of June 1st, we would need to do both pass Google’s fees on to consumers (making Android a less attractive platform for music fans), Pass fees on to artists (which we would never do), permanently run our Android business at a loss, or turn off digital sales in the Android app. In addition, the policy would change Impact on our ability to pay artists quickly – Instead of receiving payment after 24 to 48 hours, artists can only be paid 15 to 45 days after a sale.
As it stands today, Bandcamp processes its sales through PayPal, and Epic argues that moving to Google Play billing “would require significant time and effort.” However, Epic admits that Bandcamp has been intimately aware of Google’s requirements for over a year, and Epic knew about the change when it acquired the company.
Formerly Bandcamp did not support purchases via its iOS app, but now appears to be offering its own billing system on Apple’s platform. Epic noted in an email to 9to5Google that this billing applies only to physical goods sold through the Platform and is not part of Apple’s “Reader” policy introduced last month.
Update 4/30: Speak with 9to5Google, a spokesperson for Google Play outlined Google’s stance on the matter. Google considers Epic’s claim “unfounded,” pointing out that the 10% fee Bandcamp is entitled to is actually less than the service fees its own users pay. Corresponding a help pageBandcamp charges 15% on the first $5,000 in sales, which then drops to 10% as long as annual sales are maintained.
Google’s statement reads:
This is another unsubstantiated claim from Epic, which is now using its newly acquired app Bandcamp to continue its efforts to avoid paying for the value Google Play offers. We were transparent over Play’s payment policy for more than 18 months and as Epic knows, Bandcamp is entitled to a service fee of only 10% over Plays Media Experience Program– far less than the fees they charge on their own platforms. Despite their claims, Android’s openness means Bandcamp has multiple ways to distribute its app to Android users, including through other app stores, directly to users through their website, or as a consumer-only app like they do on iOS .
Bandcamp isn’t the only app hit by Google’s crackdown. Barnes & Noble and Amazon recently made changes to their e-book apps to remove the ability to purchase content, and there are many other examples. However, Google has been working on the “User Choice” billing, in a pilot project with Spotify.
More on GooglePlay:
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