Spotify is facing a $1.6 billion lawsuit from Wixen Music Publishing, the publisher that represents artists like Tom Petty, Missy Elliot, Stevie Nicks and Neil Young, The Hollywood Reporter first reported. The suit, filed December 29, alleges copyright infringement, specifically alleging Spotify is using thousands of its songs without a proper license. The lawsuit seeks at least $1.6 billion in damages and injunctive relief.
Before Spotify launched in the U.S., the company made deals with major record labels to obtain the appropriate rights to the sound recording copyrights in the songs, the lawsuit states. What Spotify failed to do, according to the lawsuit, was “obtain the equivalent rights for the compositions.”
The lawsuit goes on to say, “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 lawsuit alleges.
Wixen also alleges Spotify has “knowingly, intentionally, and repeatedly” reproduced those songs over the Internet to California residents.
This suit comes following a proposed $43 million settlement involving music rights holders and Spotify in a class-action lawsuit, Ferrick v. Spotify. That suit, Wixen alleges, “does not adequately compensate Wixen or the songwriters it represents.”
In that settlement, Spotify admitted to failing to obtain necessary statutory licenses to reproduce and/or distribute musical compositions on its platform, the lawsuit says.
“Consequently, while Spotify has become a multibillion dollar company, songwriters and their publishers, such as Wixen, have not been able to fairly and rightfully share in Spotify’s success, as Spotify has in many cases used their music without a license and without compensation,” the lawsuit states.
I’ve reached out to Spotify and Wixen. I’ll update this story if I hear back. The case is Wixen Music Publishing, Inc. v Spotify USA.