Spotify hit by new $200 million copyright suit

January 12, 2016Article
Los Angeles Daily Journal

Greenberg Glusker partner William Hochberg was quoted in the article, “New year brings new class action against Spotify” (Daily Journal, January 12, 2016).

Streaming music site Spotify has been hit with a copyright lawsuit, seeking $200 million, in the second such case within weeks claiming Spotify reproduced and distributed musical compositions without a license.

The latest lawsuit was filed in a US federal court in Los Angeles by Melissa Ferrick, the indie folk singer who teaches at the Berklee College of Music and rose to fame as Morrissey’s last-minute opening act on his 1991 tour.

Ferrick accused Spotify of failing to inform copyright owners when it created phonorecords, the files used to provide the instant music online.

The complaint estimates Ferrick's songs have been played about a million times through the service, which, according to Hochberg, "would come out to about $5,000 split between the artist, the writer, the label and the publishing company."

Hochberg goes on to say the lawsuit raises interesting questions about whether streaming is considered making and distributing a phonorecord under federal copyright law.

"This is a lawsuit that concerns a highly technical procedural issue regarding notice," Hochberg said.

The case is Ferrick v. Spotify USA Inc., 16-cv-00180, (C.D. Cal., filed Jan. 8, 2016)