Court Order Could Force Spotify to Reveal Private Correspondence

by Charlotte Hassan

Court Order Could Force Spotify to Reveal Private Correspondence

An activist artist demands transparency in a Spotify case…

Back in December of last year, Spotify faced a lawsuit brought forward by musician David Lowery, frontman of bands Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker.  Lowery, who carries a long history of advocating for fair pay for artists, claimed that Spotify has been distributing copyrighted content while skipping key royalty payments.

Lowery subsequently initiated a class action lawsuit, with estimated damages in the $150 million range.

Since that point, the case has been ongoing, though an agreement involving publishing organization NMPA and Spotify could seriously deflate the action.  But what’s in that agreement, and is it fair?  On Monday (April 18th), Lowery told U.S. District Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell that Spotify is ”using misleading information to push putative class members into a lowball royalty settlement with the National Music Publishers Association,” while pushing for access to the deal points.

Accordingly, Lowery has requested access to review all communications Spotify USA issues to putative class members related to its $30 million settlement with the NMPA, part of a potentially broader subpoena.

Lowery not only claims that Spotify is using the NMPA settlement to cut class members out of his lawsuit, but he also claims that the NMPA has distributed “slanted” press releases that serve to discredit his lawsuit and draw would-be litigants into their settlement.  Lowery is now asking the presiding judge to allow him to send corrective notices to putative class members, and prohibit Spotify and any related parties from issuing any misleading communications moving forward.

Lowery also claims that the streaming platform is infringing upon his and other musicians’ mechanical rights by failing to secure proper licenses.

Separately, Spotify seeks termination of the lawsuit based on technical problems with class action certification.  Specifically, Spotify’s lawyers have argued that each writer and publisher situation is different, which would require individual litigation instead of an across-the-board class action suit.

But, this hasn’t stopped Lowery filing a motion to consolidate his $150 million lawsuit with Mellissa Ferrick’s similar $200 million lawsuit, filed shortly after Lowery’s.  On Monday (April 18th), Lowery also asked a US District Judge to consolidate these lawsuits and appoint his counsel Michelman & Robinson LLP as lead.  The request is in opposition to a similar motion filed by Melissa Ferrick’s counsel Gradstein & Marzano PC.

The motion is below…


Yoel Molina Law

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