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Spotify Sued. Twice

Spotify has been hit with two class action lawsuits in less than a month. The first was filed in California on December 28th by David Lowery – perhaps best known as frontman of alt-rock bands Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker but also, in recent years, an outspoken opponent of streaming services.

The Lowery lawsuit is seeking $150m for copyright infringement based on a claim that the streaming site used his songs without permission.

The most recent, filed in Los Angeles on Friday, January 8, is being led by folk artist Melissa Ferrick, as reported by The Verge, who is seeking $200m as the same basis as Lowery, stating that Spotify has used a strategy of “infringe now, apologise later”.

Spotify’s global head of communications and public policy Jonathan Prince issued a statement saying that Spotify was “Committed to paying songwriters and publishers every penny” but that “Unfortunately, especially in the United States, the data necessary to confirm the appropriate rights-holders is often missing, wrong, or incomplete. When rights-holders are not immediately clear, we set aside the royalties we owe until we are able to confirm their identities”.

Prince added: “We are working closely with the National Music Publishers Association to find the best way to correctly pay the royalties we have set aside and we are investing in the resources and technical expertise to build a comprehensive publishing administration system to solve this problem for good”.

As reported by CMU, Lowery’s representatives have referred to Spotify’s ‘bad data’ claim as the “worst excuse in the world” and described Spotify’s approach to licensing as ‘catch me if you can’- the argument being that a lack of clarity on rights does not justify streaming services ignoring their obligations.

The cases will continue, as will the debate around whether or not it is actually the industry at fault for not providing digital music services with comprehensive and accurate data at this point.

In brighter news, Spotify’s paying subscriber base is now over 25m according to some interpretation from Music Business Worldwide – as elsewhere, Apple announces that paying users have hit 10m in seven months.

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