Spotify agrees to settlement with musicians over royalties dispute

Spotify have been involved in a high profile court case for a number of years. The case involves a combined lawsuit from songwriter Melissa Ferrick and musician David Lowery; the allegations are that they were not paid enough royalties for their work. After a court battle that’s dragged on for years, Spotify have finally reached a settlement deal worth around $113 million.

The settlement was initially agreed in May last year, but has been awaiting approval. It’s thought that around $43.5 million will be paid out in cash directly to the artists involved, whilst the remainder of the money will go towards the existing payments of royalties and other fees.

This follows another recent lawsuit against Spotify from the music publishing company Wixen. According to Wixen, Spotify has been using thousands of songs owned by the without the right licenses and without paying sufficient fees to them. They also claim that they don’t own the compulsory licenses to distribute songs and that Harry Fox, the company the work was outsourced to, was “ill-equipped to obtain all the necessary mechanical licenses.”

In a statement, Wixen said that the recent settlement offered to the artists involved in the case is “substantively unfair.” They added that, since the statutory damages would amount to a much higher figure, Spotify has effectively achieved a “98.7 percent discount” and a “free pass on willful infringement.”

“I think from a political standpoint, Spotify wanted this to be finished,” said Los Angeles-based music industry lawyer Niall Fordyce said. He added: “Class actions are huge, long and can be messy.” With a legislative fix pending, “I think Spotify wanted to see this done.” Jim Griffin, a Virginia-based digital music business consultant said that the class action settlement “is simply cleaning up an old mess soon foreclosed” by the U.S. Senate’s music copyright legislation.

Spotify have so far declined to comment on the claims or the court case.

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