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Spotify Slapped With $1.6 Billion Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

Music publisher says that streaming service has infringed on thousands of compositions

Streaming service Spotify has been sued by a music publisher who says that the streaming service has infringed the copyrights of thousands of songs, including the Tom Petty hit “Free Fallin'” and The Doors’ classic “Light My Fire.”

In its lawsuit, filed in federal court in California on Dec. 29, Wixen Music Publishing is seeking a whopping $1.6 billion-plus dollars from Spotify.

“As Spotify has publicly admitted, and its recent lawsuits and settlements confirm, Spotify has repeatedly failed to obtain necessary statutory, or ‘mechanical,’ licenses to reproduce and/or distribute musical compositions on its service,” the suit reads. “Consequently, while Spotify has become a multibillion dollar company, songwriters and their publishers, such as Vixen, have not been able to fairly and rightfully share in Spotify’s success, as Spotify has in many cases used their music without a license and without compensation.”

The lawsuit contends that while Spotify obtained rights for the sound recordings of the songs it features, the streaming company “failed to properly obtain the equivalent rights for the compositions.”

The suit goes on to accuse Spotify of outsourcing licensing-obtaining responsibilities to a third party, the Harry Fox Agency, which was “ill-equipped to obtain all of the necessary mechanical licenses. Upon information and belief, Spotify knew that HFA did not possess the infrastructure to obtain the required mechanical licenses and Spotify knew it lacked these licenses.”

Spotify had no comment on the lawsuit for TheWrap.

“As a direct and proximate result of Spotify’s willful and infringing conduct, Wixen is entitled to actual damages, including the substantial profits of Spotify,” the suit reads. In the alternative, the complaint says, Wixen is entitled to receive “the maximum amount of statutory damages for willful copyright infringement, $150,000 per composition, for each of the approximately 10,784 musical compositions identified in Exhibit A hereto, for a total statutory award of at least $1.6 billion.”

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.