Wixen Music Publishing, which owns songs by Tom Petty and Neil Young, is suing Spotify for $1.6 billion.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the publishing group – which also holds the rights to works by the Doors, Donald Fagen, Stevie Nicks and others – filed the lawsuit against the streaming service for what it claims is unauthorized use of thousands of songs without license or compensation.
Wixen’s suit was filed in a California federal court late last week against the Stockholm-based Spotify for using Petty’s “Free Fallin’,” the Doors’ “Light My Fire” and several thousand other songs without paying royalties on compositions. As Rolling Stone notes, songs have two copyrights – the sound recording, which is usually owned by record labels, and the composition itself, which is owned by the song’s writer and publisher.
This isn’t the first lawsuit Spotify has been slapped with recently. Last year, the company settled a class-action one for $43 million spurred by songwriters David Lowery (from the bands Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker) and Melissa Ferrick. Spotify was also sued by other songwriters for similar failure to pay “mechanical royalties.”
Wixen’s lawsuit states that Spotify didn’t obtain direct or compulsory licenses to use the songs. “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.”
The complaint also claims that more than 20 percent of Spotify’s 30 million songs could be unlicensed.