Streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and Spotify, are all wonderful for consumers, but they can create problems for copyright attorneys.
In traditional retail, copyright holders are the only ones who maintain the right to reproduce and sell published content, including books, articles, videos, and music. But there’s a specific type of publishing license, called a mechanical license, that distributors can get to cover their reproduction of copyrighted works (such as the songs Spotify makes available to its customers).
According to a class action copyright infringement lawsuit recently filed against Spotify, the music streaming company allegedly violated copyright laws by failing to pay for mechanical licenses for numerous songs it was distributing to its listeners.
Shortly after the lawsuit was first filed, a representative of the company released a public statement, claiming the information necessary to identify the proper copyright holder is not always available. He insisted that, in such instances, Spotify sets aside licensing money for when the proper copyright holders could be found.
But according to David Lowery, the musician who filed the class action lawsuit, the statement is as good as an admission of guilt. Even if Spotify felt it was doing the best it could, the fact remains that copyright law requires you to pay the copyright holder before you can distribute their work. Lowery and his attorneys maintain that, by failing to do so, Spotify was violating U.S. copyright laws. Continue reading