Last week the streaming giant Spotify was sued for copyright infringement, using songs without a license and without properly paying the publisher.
Wixen Music Publishing Inc, who is the sole licensee of gems like “Free Fallin” by Tom Petty, “Light My Fire” by the Doors, “(Girl We Got a) and Good Thing” by Weezer, claims Spotify streamed these and countless others like them without a direct or a compulsory license granted permission.
The $1.6 billion Wixen is seeking in damages is an unimaginable amount but it’s not the first time the Stockholm, Sweden-based company has had to shell out cash. In May, they payed $43 million to settle a proposed class action alleging they failed to pay royalties for some of the songs it makes available to users. Sound familiar?
Additionally, Spotify was hit with two more lawsuits where the plaintiffs claim that Spotify hadn’t fully complied with obligations under Section 115 of the U.S. Copyright Act. According to the group of Wixen songwriters in the filing,
“The Settlement Agreement is procedurally and substantively unfair to Settlement Class Members because it prevents meaningful participation by rights holders and offers them an unfair dollar amount in light of Spotify’s ongoing, willful copyright infringement of their works.”
The Music Modernization Act ,which impacts copyright holders suing over mechanical reproduction.was enacted Jan. 1, 2018, which also when the suite was filed. Spotify is refuting the legitimacy of the claims and plans of fighting in court.
With Tidal facing it’s own financial woes, Apple remains Spotify’s only competitor. But with antics like these, artist may lose trust pull their music (cc: Taylor Swift).
These types discrepancies are the types of kinks you run into when an industry is developing as fast as the streaming one is.
Whether Spotify’s argument will hold is yet to be seen but wither way, the ruling will set precedent on copyright issues in streaming.