Lawsuit: Spotify Illegally Streaming Songs

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Two independent music publishers filed separate lawsuits Tuesday in Nashville against streaming giant Spotify for failing to obtain the appropriate licenses to thousands of songs.

According to The Tennessean, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Bluewater Music Services, a Nashville-based publisher and music catalog administrator, and Bob Gaudio, a publisher and primary songwriter for the band Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

Among the songs Bluewater says Spotify did not license properly are Miranda Lambert’s “Gunpowder & Lead” and “White Liar”; Willie Nelson’s “Living in the Promiseland”; Kenny Chesney’s “Better As a Memory” and “Anything But Mine”; and Guns ‘N Roses’ “Yesterdays.”

The publishers claim Spotify didn’t follow proper protocol to obtain compulsory licenses for their compositions, and therefore has been streaming the songs illegally — an argument used in other music streaming lawsuits.

Bluewater claims Spotify has illegally posted 2,339 songs from its catalog. Gaudio claims 106 songs from his catalog were posted illegally. The hit song “December, 1963 (Oh What a Night),” which Gaudio co-wrote, is among the Franki Valli and the Four Seasons hits listed as not being properly licensed in an exhibit attached to the lawsuit. That song has over 57 million streams on Spotify.

Under U.S. music copyright law, a streaming service like Spotify does not need to negotiate royalty deals with each music publisher whose music it would like to use. Spotify can simply notify the publisher of its intent to use the songs. If Spotify can’t identify the owner of a composition’s copyright, it may post a notice with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Bluewater and Gaudio claim Spotify didn’t provide proper notice and continued to use their songs. Each party sent Spotify requests asking for proof