Welcome to Spotify. A music, video and podcast streaming service where we provide our users access to millions of songs and other content daily. We charge our users a fee to conveniently access our library of music. And we pay the creators of the musical compositions nothing! We make money off of them and you, and profit in the billions, all without obtaining proper licenses to legally distribute the music we provide. And then we make the creators spend more dollars to sue us in court for our criminal and tortious acts. We are living the American Dream!
Music Creators/Owners Worldwide v. Spotify
It amazes me at this point, how stuff like this actually happens in real life. I can see the underdogs getting the short end of the stick and losing out to major corporations due to a lack of knowledge and resources. But you’ve got to have some mighty big cajones if you’re out here stealing from people with money and the know-how to protect themselves. It’s just a huge indication of the culture we live in today. People see the value in music, in that they want it created, and build wildly huge successful industries around it, but for some reason, there’s this unspoken mantra that basically says “fuck the creators”. It puts the creators at the bottom of the totem pole. Mind you, none of these businesses, such as Spotify, would even be in existence today without the people out here creating music. So why are they so undervalued? It’s a form of modern day slavery. Work the creators for pennies and make millions off their labor, without accounting to them for a cent. Sounds about right, doesn’t it?
First, let me rewind and back up, for those of you who were not aware of what’s going on. Spotify was recently the subject of a class action lawsuit where they essentially admitted to providing musical content to its members without securing the licenses for the underlying musical compositions (Ferrick v. Spotify, USA). Back in May, Spotify propsed a $43 million settlement to the plaintiff class members which is currently awaiting judicial approval. Music creators and rights holders are up in arms about the proposed settlement that would likely dwiddle down to a little over half of what was proposed, after court and legal fees were paid. What it would basically amount to is a payment of $3.82 per infringed song. Ain’t that about a bihhhhh. For all the money Spotify made stealing music, this is what creators and rights ownerswould go home with at the end of the day. Justice served? I think not.
Wixen Music Publishing was part of the original class and was pretty much like $3.82 per song is not going to really work for us. So we’ll opt out of your little class action lawsuit and file our own, thank you very much. That way we have a better shot at getting close to what we actually lost here (Wixen Publishing, Inc. v. Spotify, USA). And on December 29, 2017, they filed a lawsuit alleging copyright infringement and almost $1.6 billion in damages. Wixen’s complaint claims willful infringment, which carries a penalty of $150,000 per act of willful infringment.
Now, let me give you a little primer on class action lawsuits so this next part makes sense. Class actions are lawsuits brought by one or more plaintiffs who represent a class of plaintiffs who suffered the same harm or injury by the same defendent. Courts permit these suits for ease of the court administration process so that it doesn’t have to dispose of the same issues between similar parties in a bunch of different lawsuits. Now, every plaintiff is not required to be a member of the class. A plaintiff can file its own lawsuit if it feels its rights wouldn’t be adequately represented by the class. And that is what Wixen has done here. When class action suits are commenced, the plaintiff’s attorney reaches out to other possible plaintiffs to inform them of the suit and to give them the option to opt out of the suit altogether. If you opt out, you may be able to seek your own legal recourse. If you opt-in, you’re interests are represented by the class action attorney assigned to the case and you receive a portion of the settlement, if one is obtained.
So, Spotify has the audacity to try to block Wixen from discussing the parameters of the opt-out provisions with its clients, and instead insists on requiring them to address their concerns through Spotify’s settlement administrator, as opposed to the attorney representing them. Essentially, Spotify is trying to avoid having another class of plaintiffs sue them for even more money that is owed to them, and wants everyone to just take their pocket change and go home. The request they made to the judge, if granted, would not only effectively prevent Wixen’s lawyer from doing their job in representing their clients, but it also circumvents attorney-client privilege by requiring Wixen’s clients to discuss with Spotify, issues they would normally discuss with their retained counsel. The judge in this case, Honorable Allison Nathan, who is also presiding over Ferrick v. Spotify, USA, has yet to make a decision with regard to Spotify’s request, but I am very curious to see how this will play out.