Wixen is an independent music publisher that was formed in 1978 and currently administers more than 50,000 songs. Wixen alleges that Spotify is using songs found in Wixen’s administrative catalog without proper licenses or compensation. Wixen is seeking attorney’s fees and injunctive relief on top of the $1.6 billion in the suit. Spotify’s lawyers have fired back against the allegations, stating that the contracts Wixen has with independent songwriters does not give the company permission to pursue litigation on behalf of the artists. Wixen has more than 2,000 artists in their licensed catalogs. The company estimates that artists with Wixen contracts represent between 1-5% of all music streamed by Spotify users.
The music publisher is now asking for the maximum amount of statutory damages pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 504(c). That amount is listed at $150,000 for each song multiplied by over 10,000 songs. Wixen claims to have exclusive licenses of songs from big name artists such asTom Petty and Stevie Nicks.
This is not the first time that Spotify has faced lawsuits. In 2016 it paid out over $20 million to a number of publishers over outstanding royalties that were owed. In 2017 it settled a lawsuit for over $43 million with three smaller publishers. The company also two lawsuits that have yet to be resolved from July of 2017.
The lawsuit claims that Spotify has failed to obtain the necessary statutory or mechanical licenses to reproduce and distribute music on its service. As a result of this failure, Wixen claims that is has not been able to fairly share in on Spotify’s success.
All of this comes after reports that Spotify filed SEC documents in December of 2017 for a public offering. Reports indicate that Spotify will be a direct listing on the NYSE by the end of Q1 in 2018. Spotify has a reported value of nearly $19 billion. Wixen is a California based corporation located in Calabasas, CA while Spotify is a Delaware corporation.
A bill proposed on December 21, 2017 was aimed at simplifying the process of music licensing and increasing royalty payments.