A Major Music Publisher Is Suing The Shit Outta Spotify For $1.6 Billion

Wixen Music Publishing has just thrown streaming service, Spotify, into hot soup, suing the company for an eye-watering $1.6 billion ($2 billion AUD).

Wixen – which licenses music from around 200 artists, including heavyweights like Tom Petty, The Beach Boys, Missy Elliot, and Neil Young – claims Spotify has been hosting “thousands of songs” without the right license. You can suss an excerpt from the complaint, which was filed in California last Friday, below.

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.

In other words, they reckon Spotify is neglecting rights holders during a mad rush to get music onto the platform. The streaming service has told the court Wixen failed to give its clients enough time to opt out of the legal action.

The filing follows a $43 million ($55 million AUD) settlement with publishers and songwriters Spotify proposed in May last year. The publisher’s president, Randall Wixen, says he won’t be joining the class-action, nor taking part in the recent Music Modernisation Act, which aims to introduce digital licensing simplicity and increased rates. He says the amount is “inadequate” and that “too much of the settlement is going to legal fees”.

We’re just asking to be treated fairly,” Wixen said. “We are not looking for a ridiculous punitive payment. But we estimate that our clients account for somewhere between 1% and 5% of the music these services distribute.”

“All we’re asking for is for them to reasonably compensate our clients by sharing a minuscule amount of the revenue they take in with the creators of the product they sell.”

It’ll be interesting to see how the legal action pans out and, if successful, if other publishers will follow suit.