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The Courts Music

Spotify Hit With $1.6 Billion Copyright Lawsuit (spin.com) 132

The Wixen Music Publishing company, which administers song compositions by Tom Petty, Dan Auerbach, Rivers Cuomo, Stevie Nicks, Neil Young, and others, has hit Spotify with a copyright lawsuit seeking $1.6 billion in damages. The publishing company filed the lawsuit on December 29, alleging the streaming giant is using Petty's "Free Fallin" and tens of thousands of other songs without license or compensation. SPIN reports: Back in September, Wixen objected to a $43 million settlement Spotify had arranged over another class action lawsuit brought by David Lowery (of Cracker and Camper van Beethoven) and Melissa Ferrick, stating it was "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." A judge has yet to rule on that settlement, and in the meantime, Wixen has moved to file its own lawsuit, which purports "as much as 21 percent of the 30 million songs on Spotify are unlicensed," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"Spotify brazenly disregards United States Copyright law and has committed willful, ongoing copyright infringement," the complaint reads. "Wixen notified Spotify that it had neither obtained a direct or compulsory mechanical license for the use of the Works. For these reasons and the foregoing, Wixen is entitled to the maximum statutory relief."

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Spotify Hit With $1.6 Billion Copyright Lawsuit

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  • I doubt they can afford it now...

    Somehow I'm guessing a billion dollars won't be anywhere near the eventual settlement on this.. ;)

    • by Mr D from 63 ( 3395377 ) on Tuesday January 02, 2018 @07:17PM (#55852295)
      Are they forgetting the huge value of all the piracy that they have prevented by streaming? Isn't one illegal download prevention about $350M or so?
  • by liquidpele ( 663430 ) on Tuesday January 02, 2018 @07:09PM (#55852251) Journal
    They seem to want people to stop listening, well fuck em. They've had nearly 20 years to set shit up, no one wants fucking CDs anymore... even Apple had to practically drag them to allow itunes.
    • by Arzaboa ( 2804779 ) on Tuesday January 02, 2018 @07:16PM (#55852279)

      If you listened to these artists while you did anything, their reasoning is that you not only owe them for the music, but you also owe them for what you did while listening to them. They set your brain waves straight!

      --
      Born on the run

      • by zlives ( 2009072 ) on Tuesday January 02, 2018 @07:21PM (#55852315)

        thats wonderful news, all the children born to music in the background should now be eligible for child support from these artists.

        • s/born/recieved/r

          • *conceived... godsdamnit

            38 seconds since you successfully posted.

            I don't think the comment traffic on /. is high enough for any of those little half-measures to be useful today...

        • thats wonderful news, all the children born to music in the background should now be eligible for child support from these artists.

          No that's the wrong way round, babies born to music have to pay the listening fee, and the parents and anyone else within 100m radius.

        • by mjwx ( 966435 )

          thats wonderful news, all the children born to music in the background should now be eligible for child support from these artists.

          You've got that backwards, not only do the parents owe the artist, the child being the product of said music must forfiet a portion of all their earnings for life +70... because copyright uber alles.

      • by hey! ( 33014 )

        Also known as rent-seeking behavior. That's a term you really need to familiarize yourself with if you live in a country where corporations control the government.

    • by arth1 ( 260657 )

      They seem to want people to stop listening, well fuck em.

      Why? You don't have a right to listen to any music you like, any way you want. If they don't want to deliver music to you on your terms, that is their right.
      If you don't like that, vote with your wallet. Or go bang two rocks together and stomp your feet to make music.

      • by Daemonik ( 171801 ) on Tuesday January 02, 2018 @08:38PM (#55852697) Homepage
        Actually, you do have a right to listen to any music you want, any way you want. Copyright is supposed to be a limited period where your right is suspended, so the creator can seek compensation. It was never envisioned or expected to be a perpetual lock on artistic works and has been greatly abused by the music industry.
        • Thanks for your views on copyright. I support your views. I use *TONS* GPL'd code without concern for the copyright at all, after all, cod just wants to be free, and so the GPL is illegitimate.

        • by arth1 ( 260657 )

          Actually, you do have a right to listen to any music you want, any way you want. Copyright is supposed to be a limited period where your right is suspended, so the creator can seek compensation.

          Yes, you are free to listen to "any music you want" as long as any music you want is past the copyright protection period. That's a rather limited definition of "any".

          When I make music, I control it, in perpetuity unless I choose to publish it. There are songs in my recording studio you will never hear, and never have the right to hear either.
          If I choose to publish it, I retain control for the copyright period in exchange for donating the music to the public domain at the expiry of the copyrights. Until t

          • What GP meant, essentially, is that you have the natural right to listen to any music you want. We have created a *legal* right in the creators of artistic works to control distribution and enjoyment of those works for a limited time in order to promote their creation.

            This is the view with which copyright was created and is how it's taught in first year property classes in law school. You've been around here long enough to have been exposed to this already; shame on you for trolling.
        • Copyright should be permanent. No one should be entitled to use another man's work without the appropriate compesation.

          • No one should be entitled to use another man's work without the appropriate compesation.

            A limited copyright gives you appropriate compensation. Nobody else gets compensated in perpetuity for their work.

      • music in games has issues with let's plays over music rights.
        Arcades / bars had issues with the BMI and ASCAP saying you need have jukebox licensing for your site so we don't sue you.

      • by Cederic ( 9623 )

        If they don't want to deliver music to you on your terms, that is their right.

        Thing is, they don't have to deliver the music. It exists. It's out there.

        What the fuck gives them the right to stop me making the air move?

        Or go bang two rocks together and stomp your feet to make music.

        That's exactly what Spotify are doing, and being sued for. See how fucking stupid the current situation is?

      • You don't have a right to listen to any music you like, any way you want.

        However, the music industry has a vested interest in me listening to music. If they make it more awkward or difficult or expensive, fewer people will listen to the music and their revenues go down. If they make it easy to buy legit copies of music, they'll make more money. GP feels that the music industry doesn't want him or her listening, and may well be driven away from buying music.

    • by TigerPlish ( 174064 ) on Tuesday January 02, 2018 @08:58PM (#55852813)

      no one wants fucking CDs anymore

      Speak for yourself.. I still buy CDs and blu rays. And paper books. And these things called "records," played by dragging a stone down a groove made of dead dinosaurs and plant decay at 33 1/3rd RPM.

      Streaming for the convenience, physical for the permanence.

      • by mentil ( 1748130 )

        Permanence? I've used vinyl records more than enough to know how poorly they degrade. Bring a record over to a friend's house, and his record player has an old stylus? It'll permanently scratch your record, degrading its quality. Play a record a bunch of times? The stylus gradually wears away the vinyl, degrading its quality. Accidentally drop the arm onto the record? I've done it tons of times, on players that don't have a lever/button that moves the arm into position. Degrades the record's quality. The sa

      • An LP and optical media are anything but permanent. Books certainly can last a while, but as i discovered when I pulled a box of my old books a year or two ago, a few years stored in less than optimal conditions, and you won't want to keep them.

        My solution is digital, but stored in multiple places are reduplicated in one way or another once or twice a year. Still a risk of small amount of loss, but that's made up for by convenience. I have ebooks I bought a decade ago that I can still read; the file is stil

    • The music industry is pure scum. Never give a penny to those cockroaches and the washed up has-beens they purport to represent. No one deserves ongoing compensation for work they did decades ago.

      For those who are brave and upstanding patriots, the best thing is to share - download, upload, and liberate as much music as possible. CULTURE BELONGS TO EVERYONE.

      For those like me who live in fear of our repressive regime and their jack booted thugs, the best thing is simply not to listen to any non-free music. Ne

      • If artists don't get compensated for their work, we'll get less art out of them. If nothing else, they won't have the option to quit the day job. Many arts benefit from not-particularly-creative actions, such as recorded musing and literature. Those guys are going to want to get paid.

        Now, when do we compensate everyone who works on some artistic endeavor? And where does this compensation come from?

        With limited-term copyright, we can have a deal whereby people who want a work of art can pay a small

        • Nah. I don't care if some nameless, faceless "artist" gets paid. I bet that "artist" doesn't give a flying fuck if I get paid, either. The payroll excuse just doesn't cut it for something as obviously immoral and divisive as copyright monopoly.

          If you are really concerned about "artists" getting paid for their efforts, consider becoming a producer. Figure out a new business model that gets money for the musicians without requiring a police state to enforce a vile monopoly - and you'll be a rich man. Not onl

          • I've been looking at other options. So have other people. I know of a couple of writers who used Patreon as support to quit the day job (Jemisen might be beyond needing that, now that she's got back-to-back Hugos). I haven't found one.

            Some of the advantages of the current system:

            • Money is allocated according to people's preferences through the market system, not the political system..
            • Money is raised voluntarily.
            • Customers can vary the amount they pay depending on what they get.
            • The customer doesn't
            • I wish I had the new business model for music, and for publishing in general. If I did I'd be a rich man. But I don't. Still doesn't make me support the vile institution of monopoly on cultural data - an institution that works ONLY by excluding poor and working people from culture, and ONLY when enforced by an intrusive police state. If that's the tradeoff, I guess the "artists" will just have to work day jobs like the rest of us.

            • Also, FWIW: I've known a lot of creative people in different artistic fields. Not one of them made a living off their art. That didn't stop any of them from making it. So no, if capitalism can't figure out a way to pay artists, that will NOT result in a dearth of new art.

              • Obviously, people will still create art of some forms, but not all. Movies would be far inferior technically to what we've got now, without money from copyright coming in. Instead of polished prose in our fiction, we'd normally have to read second drafts, or however far the author gets before it stops being fun. We wouldn't have editors and proofreaders.

    • Evidently you're not one of the many out there that are embracing the return to Vinyl.

      I'm not yet one of them, but man ... vinyl on a good phonograph with a good needle and good speakers ... it's a different, richer, sound than digital. I think, anyway. Too bad I only ever owned three vinyl albums.

    • I still buy CDs, it's usually cheaper than buying MP3s.

    • Why shouldn't Spotify work like Netflix? If Netflix can't negotiate to buy a particular series, it doesn't show it to its customers. It is as simple as that. For instance, the last time I checked (six months ago, for all I know things may have changed by now), but Game of Thrones or South Park wouldn't stream on Netflix. So that left users forced to watch either show on HBO/Comedy Central (or if they're not in the right world region, forced to watch illegal streams).

      Doesn't Spotify obey DMCA requests? What

  • Nice: Spotify has about 10x the number of pirated tracks I do. I"ve got work to do. Spiders to send etc.

    How do they manage and dedup their collection?

  • ...frEEEEEE ballin

    now my balls are free, I'm free ballin

    Once those words got in my head, that Tom Petty song was so much more comfortable.

  • Bad Business Model (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Wovel ( 964431 ) on Tuesday January 02, 2018 @07:37PM (#55852397) Homepage

    It appears Spotify has not been able to put together a sustainable business model and they are unable to pay their suppliers. I am not really sure why there are people here that think it is ok for Spotify to sell a product they are not paying for. There are streaming services that have agreements for every track they stream. I don't know if they're profitable. It doesn't really matter to me as long as they are paying the artists. Sure in some cases there are other companies getting paid too, but that is only because artists entered into business deals with those other companies.

    • Let's hope the fully licensed streaming services are NOT profitable. The recording industry has become a parasite on culture. It deserves to end.

    • None of these streaming providers pay the artist. They pay the copyright holder, which is very seldom the artist. The artist gets pennies to the dollars at best.

      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        Radio stations don't have to pay every time they play a song --- they just pay once to acquire the media.
        I think Spotify claims to be a radio station, because you pick a genre of music based on a theme or artist that's used to create your custom "Radio channel", and you don't actually get to choose what exact albums or songs you listen to.

        But the music associations now disagree, probably.... if their song happens to appear in the radio stream, they want to be paid as if it was an On-Demand Music serv

        • Yes, they do. And it's part of what nearly bankrupted Pandora before they restructured the way they pay for things. Radio stations do pay a blanket license instead of per-play, but stats are gathered on what songs air and that's used to divide up the blanket license profits between the artists. I may have some of the details a little off, but it's close to it.

          • by mysidia ( 191772 )

            that's used to divide up the blanket license profits between the artists.

            No...... well, terrestrial broadcasters don't pay Licensing fees to Artists or the copyright holder/record label for content, they pay small royalty ONLY to the Songwriter, as in the person or company that has the rights to the combination of Melody and Lyrics which usually has little to do with the artist of the song they're playing, because the broadcast is considered a performance of the song (Not a distribution of a copy)

            • By that logic, I don't see how only Spotify would be illegal (or that radio would be legal - they can only pick one interpretation). Especially when you consider the digital format used by HD Radio.

      • by Pyramid ( 57001 )

        That's not really Spotify's fault. That's a direct result of recording companies parasitic nature and the horrible contracts artists entered into.

    • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Tuesday January 02, 2018 @11:19PM (#55853421)

      I am not really sure why there are people here that think it is ok for Spotify to sell a product they are not paying for.

      I'm pretty ambivalent towards this (not really a big music fan). But the way I see it, as long as the music industry is trying sell you a product that they are not paying for [slashdot.org], then it seems to me that turnabout is fair play.

      The copyright bargain is that content creators get a temporary copyright on their work in order to stoke a permanent increase in the rate at which such works enter the public domain (by incentivizing the creation of such works and thus increasing the rate at which they're created). i.e. The payment for their right to sell to you their works, is that those works must eventually be introduced into the public domain. If those content creators finagle the law so their works are no longer entering the public domain, or that it takes so long for said works to enter the public domain that they have no value by the time that happens (1897's greatest hits anyone?), then they themselves have broken the copyright bargain. And as such their copyright protections are forfeit.

      Contract law 101. Both parties to the contract must give up something of value [wikipedia.org] to each other in the exchange. If only one side is giving something up, then the contract is not binding, and thus invalid, and there is no copyright protection.

    • Spotify's business model is quite sustainable. It's the cast of characters raising law suits who refuse to keep up with the times.

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      It appears Spotify has not been able to put together a sustainable business model and they are unable to pay their suppliers.

      This is the case with a lot of "disruptive" businesses founded in the last 8 years. They never had a plan to be profitable, they just had a plan to be disruptive. Ultimately they run out of other peoples money and die. Uber and their ilk are in the same boat. Netflix would be also... if they didn't smarten up and start making their own content which is the antithesis of the disruptive business model (but Netflix wasn't really disruptive, they worked with the existing industries).

      People heralding spurious

  • Hopefully this will spur copyright reform that takes away the fiction that art is created in a vacuum.
  • by segedunum ( 883035 ) on Tuesday January 02, 2018 @08:04PM (#55852563)
    They're always likely to get hit with things like this and you're always likely to wake up one morning, play your favourite playlist only to realise most of it isn't there.
    • by mentil ( 1748130 )

      I completely agree. That's why I BUY music from the MSN Music store, with PlaysForSure DRM!

  • by slashmydots ( 2189826 ) on Tuesday January 02, 2018 @08:56PM (#55852799)
    What the actual hell was Spotify thinking? Just use it without permission and settle the lawsuit later? Was it a technical error where they thought they had the license? Did someone misrepresent ownership of it? There has to be another side of this other than they downloaded a high bitrate copy off the pirate bay and then streamed it knowingly illegally.
  • Well, of course they do considering they are based in Sweden. They would follow the copyright law of Sweden.

  • "Raises pinky finger", give us 1 billion dollars or else!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    not a good name for german speaking countries. :)

  • For many, the music industry was better organised than the video industry. Most music was available on Spotify. I understand where the rights holders are coming from, but they should carefully consider the risk of fragmentation.

Don't sweat it -- it's only ones and zeros. -- P. Skelly

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