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Spotify Hit With $1.6 Billion Lawsuit

Spotify has been hit with a $1.6 billion lawsuit from Wixen Music Publishing, which handles titles by Tom Petty, Neil Young, Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen, Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo, Stevie Nicks, and others. The suit, which alleges that Spotify is using thousands of songs without a proper license, was filed on Dec. 29 in California federal court. It is seeking damages worth at least $1.6 billion and injunctive relief.

Spotify has been plagued by complaints and legal action from the music-publishing industry, which widely feels that labels are getting the fairer share of royalties from the company. In May the company proposed a $43 million settlement to resolve a class-action suit from a collective of songwriters, including David Lowery and Melissa Ferrick, that in September was lambasted as being inadequate by a group of songwriters and actors; more lawsuits ensued.

Wixen’s lawsuit says the proposed settlement “does not adequately compensate Wixen or the songwriters it represents.” The suit continues, “Prior to launching in the United States, Spotify attempted to license sound recordings by working with record labels but, in a race to be first to market, made insufficient efforts to collect the required musical composition information and, in turn, failed in many cases to license the compositions embodied within each recording or comply with the requirements of Section 115 of the Copyright Act. Either a direct license from Wixen or a compulsory license would have permitted Spotify to reproduce and/or distribute the Works as part of the Service, including by means of digital phonorecord deliveries (“DPDs”), interactive streaming, and limited downloads. But Spotify failed to obtain either license type,” and instead outsourced that role to the Harry Fox Agency, which the suit says “Spotify knew … did not possess the infrastructure to obtain the required mechanical licenses and Spotify knew it lacked these licenses.”

 

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