Eight Mile Style, Eminem’s music publisher, filed a complaint against Spotify on August 21, 2019, although Eminem himself is not a party in the case.
What We Know:
- It was noticed that there has been a lack of licenses on over one hundred songs – some of which by Eminem ie. Lose Yourself – on Spotify’s end. In the complaint, it is explained that Spotify “willfully committed this infringement” by pretending to have such licenses.
- The complaint adds in that Spotify has violated the Music Modernization Act (MMA), a federal law established October 2018. This act ‘modernizes’ the way artists, such as singers and songwriters, get compensated for the licenses to stream their music. In more complete terms, “It changes the procedure by which millions of songs are made available for streaming on these services and limits the liability a service can incur if it adheres to the new process. It funds the creation of a comprehensive database with buy in from all the major publishers and digital service providers.”
- The complaint reads:
“Spotify instructed the Harry Fox Agency (“HFA”) to send purported “royalty statements” out, when Spotify and HFA knew the compositions were not licensed via the compulsory license, or otherwise, to further lead Eight Mile and others into believing the songs were licensed and Eight Mile was being paid properly.“
- To put it more simply, HFA was a company hired by Spotify to “find owners of the unmatched songs.” Although this is the case, only 15% were able to be identified. This leaves a large 85% to still be left as ‘unmatched’ and the pay went to “publishers based on their market share.”
- Eight Mile Style stated that Spotify didn’t put much effort in attempting to find the copyright holders of these ‘unmatched’ songs; unable to find an Oscar winning song from the 2002 hit movie 8 Mile was considered ‘absurd’. The complaint puts it simply that “Spotify’s conduct in continuing to use HFA to match was not commercially reasonable. Spotify therefore does not have the MMA liability limitations for this reason as well.”
- “On information and belief, despite their not being licensed, the recordings of the Eight Mile Compositions have streamed on Spotify billions of times. Spotify has not accounted to Eight Mile or paid Eight Mile for these streams but instead remitted random payments of some sort, which only purport to account for a fraction of those streams.”
- This complaint was filed in Tennessee Federal court as it wants to disqualify Spotify from MMA limitation of damages along with obtaining the statutory damages of “$150,000 for each of the 243 compositions Spotify allegedly infringed”.
- Spotify has been accused of copyright infringement before this case. Last year, Spotify was under the same fire as they are for this case; the 2018 case was filed by music publisher Wixen. Again, Spotify was accused of streaming music without getting the necessary licenses.
All in all, this seems like a complicated lawsuit involving licenses for streaming and unfortunately not the first for Spotify.