Copyright Infringement, Spotify, Songwriters, & Appeals: an Update

Posted by Steven T. Lowe | May 22, 2019 | 0 Comments

Spotify is a very popular product with U.S. music listeners but has also been the subject of repeated lawsuits, appeals, and copyright infringement cases.

One of the recent major changes in the world of Spotify and copyright law has to do with the ruling of the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board, which boosted the royalty rate that Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, and other music streaming services must pay to songwriters and publishers.

The Board increased the royalties songwriters and publishers receive by 44% in January of 2018. Since the ruling, the sparks have flown over the decision, and multiple companies are appealing the ruling. Spotify and other companies, notably excluding Apple, are appealing to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to review the decision, in the hopes of overturning it.

Songwriters Fight Back

Songwriters, who greatly benefit from the Board's ruling, are fighting back against these lawsuits and appeals by music streaming companies. They argue that the ruling protects their rights as artists to appropriate compensation. Many artists have complained for a great deal of time about the small amount of compensation they receive despite the fact that streaming companies make millions off of their music.

For example, Taylor Swift held out on Spotify for a great deal of time over issues related to royalties. She complained that royalty amounts were far too low and pulled her music from the streaming service. She has since returned to Spotify and other streaming services.

The Appeal

As of February 5, 2019, the case rests with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The companies expressed concern over the significant hike in royalty amounts per song played. The cost to these companies could greatly affect their bottom line.

Apple, however, is not taking part in the appellate process. It has decided to set itself apart as "pro-artist." However, if the appeal succeeds, Apple will likely benefit from the decision without the negative press of "suing" artists through the appeals process.

Copyright and Royalty Disputes 

Copyright and royalty disputes are common in California, the United States, and even internationally. An artist who creates unique work is entitled to copyright that work, and register that copyright federally to give it the utmost protections.

When a company or individual violates that copyright, a lawsuit can be filed to protect the artist's or copyright holder's financial and legal interests in the work. With the help of an experienced California entertainment law attorney, you can fight for your rights and get the financial compensation you deserve.

Consult an Experienced California Entertainment Attorney

Copyright and royalty disputes like the one Spotify now wages are common in the industry and only with proper legal representation can you properly protect your legal rights.

An experienced California entertainment attorney at Lowe & Associates can enforce your rights in your work. Contact us today for a consultation.

About the Author

Steven T. Lowe

With more than 30 years of experience, Steven T. Lowe is one of the entertainment industry's preeminent attorneys.

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