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Major music publishing company files suit against Spotify

LOS ANGELES,  The music publisher Wixen Music Publishing Inc, filed a lawsuit claiming the popular music streaming service Spotify is ” it’s streaming millions of unlicensed songs in what it calls massive, systemic copyright infringement.”

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Wixen Music Publishing represents the rights of songwriters an publishers and is seeking damages in the amount of at least $1.6 billion, along with injunctive relief.  According to the lawsuit, Spotify failed to get a direct or a compulsory license from Wixen that would allow it to reproduce and distribute the songs which include “Free Fallin” by Tom Petty and “Light My Fire” by the Doors.

The lawsuit lists 265 pages of songs that the streaming service is allegedly streaming without proper licensing and compensation. Wixen alleges, more than 6 million of Spotify’s songs are improperly licensed, representing about a fifth of its catalog. The lawsuit is in part a response to performers’ and publishers displeasure with an agreement that Spotify made in order to pay $43 million to settle a possible class action, which alleged it failed to pay  royalties for some of the songs it makes available to users. That suit only paid out one-tenth of the revenue that Spotify is claimed to be generating each month from its 60 million paying subscribers.

Wixen has alleged that Spotify doesn’t do enough to identify the rights holders of songs it licenses from music labels, according to the complaint which says:

“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.”

The music streaming company has grown to a value of $19 billion in just the past few months. Spotify has created strong relationships with major music label companies including Warner, Universal, and Sony.  This issue continues to plague the company, as it is getting ready to list its shares on the stock market. Spotify also faces legal actions filed by Bob Gaudio and Bluewater Music Corporation in July.

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