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Spotify is being sued for £1.18bn over unlicensed songs

SPOTIFY IS facing one of the larger lawsuits of its relatively short life over the use of songs it claims it hasn’t licensed.

Wixen Music Publishing, which boasts The Black Keys, Journey (or as they should be called ‘F***ing Journey’), Tom Petty and Travis amongst its roster claims that the streaming service owes it quite a lot of money. Try $1.6bn (£1.18bn).

Yow and indeed za.

“The Settlement Agreement is procedurally and substantively unfair to Settlement Class Members because it prevents meaningful participation by rights holders and offers them an unfair dollar amount in light of Spotify’s ongoing, willful copyright infringement of their works,” it said.

Now, it’s worth pointing out that the metadata for Wixen’s site claims: “We specialise in finding uncollected and underpaid royalties. Our detailed statement reviews and desktop audits ensure you get paid every penny that your catalogue earns.” which sounds vaguely ambulance-chasey, but the fact remains that Wixen isn’t going to go after Spotify, which has taken over as the standard Windows music service unless it believes it can win.

Spotify (who let’s face it, still isn’t making money) said in court papers that it “sent a letter to its clients stating that it would submit Requests for Exclusion in their names unless — within a short time frame — the client affirmatively provided Wixen Music with contrary instructions.

“But that letter does not confer the requisite authority on Wixen Music. In sending the letters, Wixen Music effectively assumed that the recipients’ silence would grant it the power to opt the recipients out of the certified class. But that approach is contrary to law: because the right to opt out of a class action is an individual right, any attempt to exercise that right without express authorization is invalid.”

In other words – its defence is that Wixen isn’t acting with the knowledge of artists and that it doesn’t actually have a right to sue Spotify in the first place.

Which is a little bit like saying “You’re not my real mum” when you’ve been caught sneaking in at 5am. Anyway, the case continues. The real worry here is that given that Spotify’s business model has more or less killed the mp3 industry, by suing it for money that it hypothetically doesn’t have, it could cripple one of the main outlets for music. Ethical minefield or what? µ

Source : Inquirer

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