Sunday, January 07, 2018

Spotify sued for $2bn in copyright lawsuit

Music streaming company Spotify has been sued for at least $US1.6 billion ($2 billion) for copyright infringement.
California-based Wixen Music Publishing alleges 10,784 of its songs were streamed or downloaded “billions of times” via Spotify’s app — without a licence or compensation being paid to the music publisher.
Wixen describes itself as an independent publisher which “administers” more than 50,000 songs by “some of the most popular and acclaimed music artists of the last 100 years”.
It is the exclusive licensee of songs by artists like Tom Petty, Neil Young, Janis Joplin and the Doors.
“While Spotify has become a multi-billion-dollar company, songwriters and their publishers, such as Wixen, have not been able to fairly and rightfully shares in Spotify’s success,” Wixen stated in documents filed at the United States District Court.
“Spotify has in many cases used their music without a license and without compensation.”
Spotify, which is planning a stock market listing this year, claims to have over 140 million active users and more than 30 million songs in its playlists.
Despite rapid growth in users and revenue, Spotify is not making a profit, primarily because of large licensing payments to record labels.
The Stockholm-based music company said it has paid $US5 billion ($6.4 billion) in revenue to music rightsholders (as of September 2016).
The Loss of Music
Whenever you listen to a streamed song, like it but don’t buy it and instead stream it again, you are casting a vote for the future nonexistence of professional musicians, writes Professor Peter Godfrey-Smith.
But Spotify “took a shortcut” to win the “race to be first to market”, according to Wixen.
“In 2011, Spotify faced a choice to either obtain all the required rights to the songs and significantly delay its US launch, or move forward without proper licenses and face the legal ramifications later,” the publisher stated.
“As a result, Spotify has built a billion dollar business on the backs of songwriters and publishers whose music Spotify is using, in many cases without obtaining and paying for the necessary licenses.”
In May, Spotify agreed to pay more than $US43 million ($55 million) to settle a class action from a group of American songwriters including David Lowery and Melissa Ferrick — who alleged the company failed to pay them royalties.
But Wixen has criticised that settlement for being “grossly insufficient to compensate songwriters and publishers for Spotify’s actions”.
Spotify has declined to comment.

– ABC
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