As streaming music services continue to fight against claims of unpaid royalties, Spotify is ringing in the new year with a $1.6 billion copyright lawsuit.
According to a report from The Hollywood Reporter, on Friday (Dec. 29), Wixen Music Publishing filed a lawsuit alleging that Spotify is using songs from Rage Against the Machine, Tom Petty, Neil Young, Stevie Nicks and tens of thousands of other tracks without a license or compensation.
“The Settlement Agreement is procedurally and substantively unfair to Settlement Class Members because it prevents meaningful participation by rights holders and offers them an unfair dollar amount in light of Spotify’s ongoing, willful copyright infringement of their works,” stated the group of Wixen songwriters, which includes Tom Morello, Zach De La Rocha, Dan Auerbach and more.
Following the lawsuit, Spotify fired back, questioning if Wixen has actually been authorized by its clients to take aggressive actions. In court papers filed on Friday, lawyers for Spotify wrote that Wixen “sent a letter to its clients stating that it would submit Requests for Exclusion in their names unless—within a short time frame—the client affirmatively provided Wixen Music with contrary instructions.”
“But that letter does not confer the requisite authority on Wixen Music,” Spotify’s statement continues. In sending the letters, Wixen Music effectively assumed that the recipients’ silence would grant it the power to opt the recipients out of the certified class. But that approach is contrary to law: because the right to opt out of a class action is an individual right, any attempt to exercise that right without express authorization is invalid.”
The lawsuit is just the latest problem for Spotify, which was recently hit with two other suits in July, after songwriter Bob Gaudio alleged that Spotify hadn’t adequately paid mechanical licenses for song compositions.