Double or nothing: Spotify hit with another class-action lawsuit for $200 million

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If Spotify was hoping for a quiet start to 2016 on the legal front, it’s going to be disappointed. Just two weeks after musician David Lowery filed a $150 class action suit against the company, it’s facing another separate class action suit — this time for $200 million.

On Friday the Los Angeles law firm Gradstein & Marzano filed a complaint on behalf of the artist Melissa Ferrick, accusing Spotify of “wholesale copyright infringement,” the Los Angeles Times reports. The suit alleges that Spotify did not contact Ferrick for permission before making her compositions available for streaming on its service.

Ferrick is seeking class-action status for the suit, alleging that Spotify has failed to properly license songs on several occasions. The complaint states that Ferrick’s songs alone have been streamed “approximately one million times” without a license.

Spotify isn’t the only company that has seen these types of complaints — Rhapsody and Google Play Music have both been accused of paying far too little, for example — but as the most popular, it’s currently the biggest target.

The lawsuit filed last month by Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker frontman David Lowery makes similar accusations to Ferrick’s. The earlier suit claims that Spotify knowingly distributes music for which it has not obtained licenses, which Spotify has all but confirmed.

“When one of our listeners in the U.S. streams a track for which the rightsholder is not immediately clear, we set aside the royalties we owe until we are able to confirm the identity of the rightsholder,” the company wrote in a blog post shortly before the first lawsuit was filed. “When we confirm the rightsholder, we pay those royalties as soon as possible.”

Spotify, valued at $8 billion, says that so far it has paid out over $3 million in total royalties. The company has also set aside an estimated $17 million to $25 million for the purpose of paying royalties to rightsholders who haven’t yet been confirmed.

Spotify says it is working with its “partners and friends in the industry” to work out a better way to pay artists, but as the lawsuits show, this isn’t enough for artists who feel they’re being wronged.


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