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Christian Eede
3 May 2022, 18:24

Epic Games files for injunction against Google over Bandcamp's Android payment system

Google's changes could force Bandcamp to turn off digital sales through Android altogether

Epic Games files for injunction against Google over Bandcamp's Android payment system

Epic Games, on behalf of Bandcamp, has filed an injunction against Google over forthcoming changes to its payment policy.

Explaining the move, Bandcamp co-founder and CEO Ethan Diamond said: "Since 2015, artists and labels have used Bandcamp's Android app to sell music and merchandise directly to their fans, and we have used our own billing system to process payments, consistent with Google's guidelines which specifically exempted digital music from incurring a revenue share.

"However, Google is now modifying its rules to require Bandcamp (and other apps like it) to exclusively use Google Play Billing for payments for digital goods and services, and pay a revenue share to Google."

Google's policy changes are due to come into force from 1st June, and if they stand, Diamond said Bandcamp will be forced to pass Google's fees on to consumers or artists (the latter is something he has said "we would never do"), or face permanently running its Android business at a loss. Another alternative is that the company will be forced turn off digital sales in the Android app altogether.

Diamond's statement also added that "the policy changes would impact our ability to pay artists quickly – instead of receiving payment after 24 to 48 hours, artists may not be paid until 15 to 45 days after a sale".

He continued: "We believe it's imperative for fans to be able to express that critical support on Android, and so to stop Google from implementing these new policies for Bandcamp and other developers, Epic is filing a motion to seek a court injunction allowing Bandcamp to continue operating as we have (you can read our filing here and my declaration here)."

In Epic's injuction, the company argues that "paying Google even a 10% revenue share [following the policy changes] would force Epic to change Bandcamp's current business model or else operate the Bandcamp business at a long-term loss".

Google spokesperson Dan Jackson has pushed back against Bandcamp and Epic Games' statements, saying: "This is yet another meritless claim by Epic, which is now using its newly acquired app Bandcamp to continue its effort to avoid paying for the value that Google Play provides.

"We've been transparent about Play's Payment policy for more than 18 months and, as Epic knows, Bandcamp is eligible for a service fee of just 10% through Play's Media Experience Program — far less than the fees they charge on their own platforms. Despite their claims, Android's openness means that Bandcamp has multiple ways of distributing their app to Android users, including through other app stores, directly to users via their website or as a consumption-only app as they do on iOS."

Last Friday, 29th April, a judge stayed Epic's injuction, pending further order, which means it won't go through just yet. The judge did, however, set a status conference for the Epic's wider case against Google for 12th May, which means the battle between the two companies may develop further later this month.

Bandcamp was acquired by Epic Games, the games developer known for titles such as 'Fortnite', earlier this year.