Spotify Sued For Copyright Infringement

UK entertainment group Ministry of Sound has gone to the High Court to force Spotify to delete user-compiled playlists that copy the track listing and sequencing of the record label’s hit compilations.

MOS chief exec Lohan Presencer is calling on Spotify to remove users’ playlists that directly mirror the tracklist and running order of some Ministry albums. His company is also seeking costs and damages.

What could turn out to be a landmark legal case could hinge on whether music fans can be sued for compiling a playlist of their favourite songs.

The individual tracks contained on the Ministry albums are licensed by their record companies to Spotify, but the branded compilations are not.

Presencer says “a lot of research goes into” curating the compilations that the Spotify users are replicating.

“What we do is a lot more than putting playlists together. The value and creativity in our compilations are self-evident. It’s not appropriate for someone to just cut and paste them,” he said. Spotify, which last month launched a “browse” feature to encourage music fans to discover and share their own playlists, is rejecting Ministry’s demands.

The Swedish-based music service, which has spent four years trying to cut a deal with Ministry, says every track played on Spotify is played under a full license from the owners of that track. It says that royalty gets paid regardless of whether the track was chosen from a user-generated playlist.

The case appears to rest on whether the order in which particular songs are sequenced – rather than the songs themselves – is protected by intellectual property law.

If the Ministry is successful, the ruling could have wider implications.

A club DJ, whose living is based on mixing together a unique sequence of tracks, could injunct a rival who copied the same setlist. A radio station, operating a commercially successful playlist, could sue a rival for playing the same songs in the same order.