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Music Publishing Company Sues Spotify for $1.6 Billion

January 03, 2018
Post by Brandon W. Clark

Spotify has a growing copyright problem and as previously discussed on this blog (here and here) they are no stranger to copyright infringement lawsuits. Wixen Music Publishing Inc. recently filed a complaint seeking $1.6 billion in damages alleging copyright infringement. On December 29th, Wixen filed suit in California federal court claiming Spotify has repeatedly failed to obtain necessary statutory, or mechanical, licenses to reproduce and distribute songs on its service, and as a result has cheated artists out of millions in royalties.

According to the complaint, Wixen administers more than 50,000 songs written or owned by more than 2,000 artists, including Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks, Weezer, Rage Against the Machine, The Black Keys, Styx, The Doors, Santana and The Beach Boys.

The suit seeks the maximum amount of statutory damages for willful copyright infringement, or $150,000 per composition, of approximately 10,784 musical compositions, for at least $1.6 billion, plus attorneys’ fees and costs. The suit notes that Spotify has about 140 million active users and 60 million subscribers, and it’s obtained more than $1 billion in private equity.

The lawsuit comes after Spotify reached a proposed $43 million settlement to resolve a class action lawsuit from songwriters in May of 2017. That settlement must still be approved by a judge, but many songwriters and music publishing companies have voiced their disapproval of that outcome. The suit says that Wixen plans to opt-out of the proposed settlement. 

The case is Wixen Music Publishing Inc. v. Spotify USA Inc., case number 2:17-cv-09288, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California and can be read here.

Brandon W. Clark is the Chair of the Copyright, Entertainment & Media Law Practice Group at McKee, Voorhees & Sease, PLC. For additional information, please visit www.ipmvs.com or contact Brandon directly via email at brandon.clark@ipmvs.com.


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