Our friends at Royalty Exchange round up and analyze the top news stories of the last fortnight in music royalties.
Week ending September 15th: Spotify Argument Won’t Upend Music Industry Recovery
Benom’s Take: The plot thickens! This week, a third lawsuit from music publishers was filed against Spotify. In addition to that, a number of notable names (Tom Petty, members of Rage Against The Machine, The Black Keys, Weezer and others) made appearances in court to object to the $43 million class action settlement Spotify made with music publishers. In the dissenting arguments, they bring up the same objection Bluewater Music did in its lawsuit filing – that the class action settlement gives Spotify a ridiculous discount for copyright infringement, equating to approximately $4 per song. Maximum copyright damages for willful infringement is $150,000 per song. Not too bad for Spotify.
Of course, all of this is coming on the heels of Spotify reportedly meeting with U.S. regulators to go public on the NYSE. Not a good omen for an IPO, especially when support for the streaming service from the music publishing and songwriting community is at an all-time low. But who can blame them? Spotify has kicked dust in the face of the music publishing community by objecting that interactive streaming mechanical royalties do not apply to them. With that response, in one single swoop, Spotify essentially declared war with the music publishers. As the President of the National Music Publisher’s Association is quoted in the second article, “As long as this is an active argument, we are in a state of war with [Spotify].” Spotify knows its argument cannot be true because it has these licenses in place, has paid the royalty before and in fact, admitted in copyright office filings in 2014 that it “needed” these particular licenses. [READ MORE]
This round-up was put together by Benom Plumb, Assistant Professor of Music Industry Studies at the University of Colorado Denver.