February 6, 2019
Bluewater Music Services (“Bluewater”) has filed a lawsuit against Spotify alleging willful infringement of more than 1,300 compositions. Each case of infringement could result in statutory damages of up to $150,000.
The issue stems from the fact that Spotify did not obtain mechanical licences for the compositions, which, until the Music Modernization Act (the “MMA”) came into effect, were required to reproduce and distribute music under the Copyright Act. The MMA alleviated this onerous process by establishing a mechanical licensing collective which was charged with maintaining a database of musical works and sound recordings. Bluewater filed this complaint before the MMA came into effect. We wrote previously about the MMA here. Spotify is also the subject of numerous other lawsuits in the same vein, and potentially faces billions of dollars in liability.
Spotify has moved for permission to file an interlocutory appeal (to take place before the trial, currently scheduled for April 2020) and seeks a declaration that Bluewater does not have standing to bring its lawsuit. Spotify argues that, because Bluewater requires consent to authorize mechanical reproductions at a rate below the statutory rate, Bluewater does not have the requisite exclusive rights to have standing to sue.
Authors: Amanda Bertucci and Abid Khalid