Spotify Reacts To $150 Million Class-Action Lawsuit, Attempts To Have Case Dismissed

Late last year, David Lowery filed a class action lawsuit against Spotify claiming damages of $150 million. Lowery, the leading man for both bands Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker, has alleged that Spotify knowingly distributed copyrighted works without the appropriate licensing. Now, in an effort to combat those claims, the largely successful music streaming service has responded with 2 separate motions filed this month. One requesting the California court to strike the class allegations, arguing that it is a “Frankenstein monster posing as a class action.” The other, an attempt to dismiss the case completely if it cannot be transferred to a New York federal court. Spotify is a “Delaware corporation headquartered in New York,” therefore moving the case to a local court would be “for the convenience of parties and witnesses,’ and ‘in the interest of justice.'” Mona Hanna is the lead partner at the LA-based Michelman & Robinson law firm is representing Lowery in the case against the corporation. Hanna told Pitchfork that this move from Spotify is “a standard defense maneuver to try to avoid dealing with the merits of the complaint and trying to see if they can get a dismissal on procedural grounds.” She goes on to assure, “We are very confident that this is just a delay tactic and we are going to get to the merits.”

As stated in the complaint, Spotify is facing fines that range from $750-30,000 per violation. However, if the corporation violated the copyright willingly, that fine per violation could reach $150,000. Non-payment of royalties to artists and musicians has been an issue circulating the music streaming industry. Just recently we reported on Soundcloud encountering a similar dilemma within it’s business. As for Spotify though, there’s a number somewhere between $17-25 million that is apparently owed to publishers and songwriters. And, they have acknowledged it. Prior to Lowery’s lawsuit, the company’s head of communications and public policy, Jonathan Prince, made a statement regarding a database Spotify has created for royalties owed to artists who have not yet been confirmed as the rights holders. “Unfortunately, especially in the United States, the data necessary to confirm the appropriate rightsholders is often missing, wrong, or incomplete. When rightsholders are not immediately clear, we set aside the royalties we owe until we are able to confirm their identities. 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.”

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