Arts & Entertainment

Spotify's $1.6 Billion Copyright Lawsuit Could Be a Major Milestone in the Music Industry

Wixen Music Publishing represents Tom Petty, Neil Young, Stevie Nicks, The Black Keys, and many more.
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Spotify has been hit with a massive $1.6 billion lawsuit by Wixen Music Publishing, which oversees the catalogs of Tom Petty, Zach De La Rocha and Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, Steely Dan's Donald Fagen, Weezer's Rivers Cuomo, David Cassidy, Neil Young, Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon, Stevie Nicks, and others. 

The lawsuit "alleges that Spotify is using Petty's "Free Fallin," the Doors' "Light My Fire," and tens of thousands of other songs without a license and compensation. The plaintiff is seeking a damages award worth at least $1.6 billion plus injunctive relief," according to Billboard

"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 lawsuit reads. 

As Billboard notes, this lawsuit comes after a handful of major copyright problems for Spotify. In May, the streaming company proposed a $43 million settlement to resolve a lawsuit that alleged Spotify hadn't paid mechanical licenses for songwriters David Lowery and Melissa Ferrick's compositions. Then, in July, Spotify was hit with two more lawsuits alleging the service "hadn't fully complied with obligations under Section 115 of the U.S. Copyright Act, which provides a compulsory license to make a mechanical reproduction of a musical composition, but only if a 'notice of intention' is sent out and payments are made." 

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It's unclear how Spotify will proceed going forward. The company has not responded to requests by Billboard, but the outlet does note that it could maintain defenses Spotify outlined in previous lawsuits.

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This story originally appeared on Esquire.com. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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Matt Miller
Matt Miller is the Associate Culture Editor for Esquire.com
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