Spotify has landed itself a lawsuit of $1.6 billion for allegedly using songs by the likes of Tom Petty and others without a license from the publishers. It's not the first time the streaming service has been in court over licensing and copyright issues, but we hope it will be the last.
Those at Wixen Music Publishing, who are responsible for licensing music from the likes of Tom Petty, The Beach Boys, Neil Young and others, have accused Spotify of infringement of the Copyright Act in their failure to obtain all necessary licenses for more than 10,000 songs on their service.
The publishers are suing for a massive $150,000 per song, in them including the 1989 Tom Petty hit 'Free Fallin''. They claim that Spotify made 'insufficient efforts to collect the required musical composition information' when it came to optaining the rights to certain songs.
'Prior to launch, Spotify struck deals with major record labels to obtain the necessary rights to the sound recording copyrights in the songs by offering the major labels, in many cases, equity stake in Spotify. But Spotify failed to properly obtain the equivalent rights for the compositions', the legal document read. '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 other words, Spotify made efforts to obtain recording rights, but not composition rights when it came to reproducing popular music. The company is currently embroiled in another suit where they are offering a $43m settlement to end a similar case which arose last year.
'As Spotify has publicly admitted, and as recent lawsuits and settlements confirm, Spotify has repeatedly failed to obtain necessary statutory, or "mechanical," licenses to
reproduce and/or distribute musical compositions on its service', the latest lawsuit read, alluding to last year's court debacle. 'Consequently, while Spotify has become a multibillion dollar company, songwriters and their publishers, such as Wixen, have not been able to fairly and rightfully share in Spotify's success, as Spotify has in many cases used their music without a license and without compensation.'
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Spotify are yet to publicy comment on the matter.