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Spotify is being sued for letting you make playlists

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London-based dance music brand Ministry of Sound has filed a lawsuit against streaming service Spotify for allowing users to create and share playlists that replicate Ministry of Sound compilation albums.

While Ministry of Sound does not own the copyright to many of the songs on its albums, the company claims its intellectual property rights are being violated because the duplication of its compilation albums in playlist form undermines the artistic effort involved in curating a compilation album.

“What we do is a lot more than putting playlists together,” Ministry of Sound CEO Lohan Presencer told The Guardian. “A lot of research goes into creating our compilation albums, and the intellectual property involved in that. It’s not appropriate for someone to just cut and paste them.”

The suit, filed in the U.K. High Court on Monday, aims to force Spotify to delete all user-created playlists that copy the exact order of songs available on Ministry of Sound compilation albums, and to prevent the creation of such playlists in the future. The company also seeks penalties and damages.

According to Presencer, Ministry of Sound has repeatedly requested that Spotify remove recreations of its compilation albums since 2012.

In an editorial published on The Guardian’s website, Presencer counters the prevailing narrative that Spotify works as a silver bullet against online piracy, and claims the music industry suffered “cumulative losses of over $154 million” through 2012, as a result of the streaming service. Presencer also asserts that Spotify’s business model is not sustainable because 80 percent of its users do not pay for its premium offering, and instead opt for the ad-supported free version.

“Until now, we’ve watched Spotify’s progress from a distance,” writes Presencer. “But we can no longer remain silent. This so-called saviour of the industry and enemy of the pirates is allowing our compilations to be used without permission and refusing to take action when told about the problem.”

Spotify has thus far refused to comment on the lawsuit.

The success of Ministry of Sound’s lawsuit is dependent upon whether the order of curated content can be copyrighted. If the High Court rules in Ministry of Sound’s favor, the entire concept of user-created playlists could be in jeopardy, at least in the U.K.

So, is this just another case of crazy music industry lawsuits, or a valid argument for the artistic endeavor of curating content? Let us know what you think.

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Andrew Couts
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