Taylor Swift and Adele might be on to something...
Spotify faces a $150 million class action lawsuit over unpaid royalties from Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker frontman David Lowery. They claim Spotify knowingly, willingly, and unlawfully reproduces and distributes copyrighted compositions without obtaining mechanical licenses, reports Billboard.
The timing couldn't be worse.
The National Music Publishers Assn. are currently negotiating with the streaming giant because they allege Spotify allows users to listen to music that isn't properly licensed and fails to make royalty payments to music publishers and songwriters. Industry insiders say Spotify has created a $17 million to $25 million reserve fund to pay royalties for pending and unmatched song use.
The complaint filed on Dec. 28 in California says Spotify has unlawfully distributed copyrighted music to more than 75 million users.
Spotify's global head of communications and public policy, Jonathan Prince, in a statement:
"We are committed to paying songwriters and publishers every penny. Unfortunately, especially in the United States, the data necessary to confirm the appropriate rightsholders is often missing, wrong, or incomplete. When rightsholders are not immediately clear, we set aside the royalties we owe until we are able to confirm their identities. We are working closely with the National Music Publishers Association to find the best way to correctly pay the royalties we have set aside and we are investing in the resources and technical expertise to build a comprehensive publishing administration system to solve this problem for good."
The complaint asks the courts to force Spotify to remove the infringing music in question from its services until it obtains the proper licenses. Some of those songs include “Almond Grove,” “Get On Down The Road,” “King of Bakersfield,” and “Tonight I Cross The Border,” all from Lowery's 2014 album Berkeley to Bakersfield.
By not doing so, it "creates substantial harm and injury to the copyright holders, and diminishes the integrity of the works," the complaint states.
The lawsuit is a class action suit because it represents a community of artists that far surpasses 100 individuals.