Recently, streaming giant Spotify has found itself in the news more often than usual: following an insensitive ad campaign, feature rollbacks that were initially intended to empower artists; and most recently, and in an upsetting move – filing an appeal against a ruling by The Copyright Royalty Board that would guarantee artists a 44% raise in royalties for all musicians with music on the streaming platform. These moves on their part have created an image of the corporation’s apparent focus on profit over the wellbeing and support of the artists who are the literal foundation of the service.
Spotify have once again found themselves in an uncomfortable situation – now with a massive lawsuit being filed against them.
Recently, it has been confirmed that Eminem’s publishing company Eight Mile Style have file a copyright infringement lawsuit against Spotify with serious implications. Although Eminem himself is not directly involved in the lawsuit, Eight Mile Style alleges that the streaming platform has illegally hosted and streamed 250 of Eminem’s tracks, including some of his biggest and most well known hits such as ‘The Real Slim Shady’ without acquiring the proper licensing.
This includes lack of payment, which considering the massive popularity of these tracks and their billions of streams is a huge amount of money. As we know, copyright infringement cases in the music world are often messy and complicated, with the specificities of copyright infringement often too nuanced to be tackled in a straightforward manner.
Eight Mile Style are holding Spotify accountable for allegedly not possessing the necessary license for the tracks to be used on the platform, with the company instead listing the tracks under a category titled ‘Copyright Control’. What this means, is that the licensing category under which these tracks are filed are listed as having ‘unknown’ copyright holders.
Eight Mile Style have listed this as ridiculous, considering the popularity of the tracks in question. As Eminem himself is not involved as previously mentioned, the publishing company, who are responsible for the copyright of the tracks that they also co-own, are specific with their focus on the compositions of the songs: the actual sheet compositions themselves, including the lyrics.
Eight Mile Style have also claimed that Spotify have only “remitted random payments of some sort, which only purport to account for a fraction of those streams.” Although the nuances of copyright infringement lawsuits makes them difficult to tackle, it seems as Eight Mile Style may have a concise case against the streaming platform.