byÂ Paul Resnikoff
Leaked Correspondence Complicates Spotifyâ€™s $150 Million Lawsuit
Earlier this week, Spotifyâ€™s high-priced lawyers pointed their guns at David Lowery, the artist activist who started a class action now valued north of $200 million. Â The legal attack attempted to nullify Loweryâ€™s aggressive class action entirely, based on technical issues that had nothing to do with the core claim.
But what is that core claim? Â Loweryâ€™s lawsuit was predicated around Spotifyâ€™s failure to pay specific mechanical licenses, an issue that specifically relates to the licensing ofÂ publishing assets (ie, the underlying composition instead of the recording itself). Â But according to correspondence leaked to Digital Music News late Thursday evening, Spotifyâ€™s lawyers reached out to Warner Music Groupâ€™s attorneys in December claiming that Lowery had raised broader issues that included the recording side.
Those broad claims triggered a clause in Spotifyâ€™s contract with Warner Music, including the right to remove the content as needed. Â â€œWe are writing to inform you that we received a demand letter from David Lowery and Camper van Beethoven (collectively, the â€œArtistâ€œ),â€ the letter states. Â â€œAmong other things, the Artist asserts that his exclusive rights to copyrights in musical works and/or sound recordings have been infringed by Spotifyâ€™s exploitation of the applicable musical work and/or copyright.â€
A footnote in the letter then suggests that Lowery may have issued a broad-reaching demand, without specifying the licenses infringed. Â â€œThe artist did not identify whether he is seeking a publishing or sound recording claim for each work, so we have listed all of the affected Warner tracks.â€
Alternatively, the letterÂ could be deliberately misrepresenting the claims made by Lowery to Warner Music, a move that would could constitute tortious business interference (among other issues). Â Indeed, the listed tracks have indeed been removed from Spotify, at least in the US, based on a check late Thursday evening.
Both Lowery and Spotify have been contacted for comment on the correspondence. Â The full letter follows.
Warner – Lowery Indemnity Notice (Dec 15 2015)