MLC Sues Spotify For Unpaid Songwriter Royalties, Spotify Responds

(Hypebot) — The Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) has filed a lawsuit in opposition to Spotify, searching for what it says are unpaid royalties due underneath its obligatory mechanical blanket license.

The authorized motion comes after Spotify reclassified its Premium Particular person, Duo, and Household subscription plans as “Bundled Subscription Choices” as a result of these plans embrace entry to audiobooks. By some estimates, the reclassification may price songwriters as much as $150 million yearly.

The MLC administers the blanket obligatory license for the usage of musical works by digital music companies. The lawsuit alleges that Spotify’s place doesn’t adjust to relevant legal guidelines and laws and that the MLC has statutory authority to deal with non-compliance.

“The MLC was designated by the Register of Copyrights to manage the blanket license and is the one entity with the statutory mandate to gather and distribute blanket license royalties and take authorized motion to implement royalty cost obligations,” mentioned The MLC’s CEO Kris Ahrend. “The MLC takes critically its obligation to take motion on behalf of our Members after we imagine utilization reporting and royalty funds are materially incorrect.”

Spotify responded with this assertion:

“The lawsuit considerations phrases that publishers and streaming companies agreed to and celebrated years in the past underneath the Phono IV settlement. Bundles had been a vital part of that settlement, and a number of DSPs embrace bundles as a part of their mixture of subscription choices. Spotify paid a report quantity to publishers and societies in 2023 and is on observe to pay out a good bigger quantity in 2024. We sit up for a swift decision of this matter.

Spotify vs. Songwriters

The contentious relationship between Spotify and songwriters over royalties has not too long ago grown extra combative.

On Wednesday, Spotify bought a cease-and-desist letter from the Nationwide Music Publishers Affiliation (NMPA) concerning the streamer’s use of lyrics in newly launched video features and a remix function that allows customers to hurry up and edit songs to create spinoff works.

In response to the NMPA’s stop and desist letter, a Spotify spokesperson mentioned:

“This letter is a press stunt full of false and deceptive claims. It’s an try and deflect from the Phono IV deal that the NMPA agreed to and celebrated again in 2022. We paid a report quantity to profit songwriters in 2023, and we’re on observe to exceed this quantity in 2024. Spotify is a platform for licensed content material. We’re dedicated to the integrity of our platform, and now we have a transparent course of in place for rightsholders to contact Spotify about any content material they imagine is unlicensed.”

The NMPA has additionally been vital of Spotify’s reclassification of bundles and the impact it is going to have on songwriters.

Bruce Houghton is the Founder and Editor of Hypebot, a Senior Advisor at Bandsintown, President of the Skyline Artists Company, and a Berklee Faculty Of Music professor.