Music lovers in San Diego helped Spotify begin 2018 with an estimated 70 million users. However, January has seen the content-streaming company dealing with an even bigger — but much less desirable — number. The rights owner of a catalog including songs from Tom Petty, the Doors and Mariah Carey has initiated intellectual property litigation against Spotify, asking courts for some $1.6 billion in compensation.
Wixen Music Publishing filed suit in December 2017 alleging improper use of an estimated 10,000 songs from Wixen’s holdings. Copyright litigation and accusations of copyright infringement have dogged many streaming media companies, and in this lawsuit, Spotify is being hit for $150,000 for each individual song it allegedly infringed.
This is not the first time that Spotify has found itself the target of copyright litigation from a major media rights holder. In 2016, the company reached a settlement in action brought by The National Music Publishers’ Association over unpaid and unmatched royalties. Later that year, the company settled a different copyright infringement suit with the establishment of a $43.4 million fund to compensate holders for payments of “mechanical royalties.”
Two new court challenges by Wixen and another party refusing to take part of that settlement claim that the $43.4 million is “grossly insufficient” as compensation to artists and other rights holders claiming infringement. Responding in a memo, Spotify’s lawyers hold that the company is not liable because streaming does not technically reproduce copies of sound recordings or distribute copies of sound recordings or other compositions, and thus mechanical royalties are not owed by the company.
Rights holders going through issues involving intellectual property may want to hire a lawyer. An attorney experienced in copyright disputes, patent infringement or other intellectual property areas could offer valuable assistance.