Spotify hit with $2.1 billion copyright lawsuit

Spotify was sued for allegedly using thousands of songs without a licence and compensation to a music publisher.
Spotify was sued for allegedly using thousands of songs without a licence and compensation to a music publisher.PHOTO: REUTERS

(Reuters) - Music streaming company Spotify was sued by Wixen Music Publishing last week for allegedly using thousands of songs, including those of Tom Petty, Neil Young and the Doors, without a licence and compensation to the music publisher.

Wixen, an exclusive licensee of songs such as Free Fallin by Tom Petty, Light My Fire by the Doors, (Girl We Got A) Good Thing by Weezer and works of singers such as Stevie Nicks, is seeking damages worth at least US$1.6 billion (S$2.1 billion) along with injunctive relief.

Spotify failed to get a direct or a compulsory licence from Wixen that would allow it to reproduce and distribute the songs, Wixen said in the lawsuit filed in a California federal court.

Wixen also alleged that Spotify outsourced its work to a third party, licensing and royalty services provider the Harry Fox Agency, which was "ill-equipped to obtain all the necessary mechanical licences".

Spotify declined to comment.

In May, the Stockholm, Sweden-based company agreed to pay more than US$43 million to settle a proposed class action alleging it failed to pay royalties for some of the songs it makes available to users.

Spotify, which is planning a stock market listing this year, has grown around 20 perccent in value to at least US$19 billion in the past few months.