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Spotify faces $1.6 billion lawsuit for alleged copyright infringement

The suit claims 21 percent of Spotify's entire song collection may be unlicensed.


Phillip Tracy


Posted on Jan 2, 2018   Updated on May 22, 2021, 6:16 am CDT

Spotify has been slammed with a major lawsuit that alleges the company used “thousands of songs” without the correct license. Filed by Wixen Music Publishing, the suit is seeking damages worth a whopping $1.6 billion, or $150,000 each for more than 10,000 songs. Wixen represents more than 200 artists, including Tom Petty, Neil Young, The Black Keys, the Beach Boys, and Missy Elliott.

The complaint, which was filed in California on Friday, claims around 21 percent of Spotify’s 30 million songs may be unlicensed. Every song has two copyrights: the actual recording of the song and the musical composition, or “mechanical license,” which “grant the rights to reproduce and distribute copyrighted musical compositions (songs) on CDs, records, tapes, ringtones, permanent digital downloads, interactive streams and other digital configurations supporting various business models,” according to HFA.

Wixen claims Spotify failed to get a direct, or compulsory, license that would allow it to use the music, including Petty’s “Free Fallin'” and “Light My Fire” by the Doors.

“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,” the complaint states.

It continues: “In a race to be first to market, [Spotify] 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.”

The complaint comes in response to a $43 million settlement Spotify proposed last year following a lawsuit led by musicians David Lowery and Melissa Ferrick. Not everyone was happy with the settlement, so while more lawsuits were being filed, Wixen objected to the settlement.

Spotify has reportedly questioned whether Wixen gave its clients enough time to opt out of the new lawsuit, according to the Hollywood Reporter. There are doubts about whether Wixen’s clients, including Kenny Rogers, Andrew Bird, and Jim Morrison’s heirs authorized the company to take action.

This isn’t the first time Spotify has been hit with a copyright infringement suit. In 2016, it reached a $30 million settlement with the National Music Publishers’ Association for similar allegations.

Spotify declined the Daily Dot’s request for comment on the lawsuit.

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*First Published: Jan 2, 2018, 6:12 pm CST