Report: Camper Van Beethoven's David Lowery Sues Spotify For Copyright Infringement
December 29, 2015 at 9:50 AM (PT)
Multiple sources are reporting that DAVID LOWERY -- who played in Alternative bands CAMPER VAN BEETHOVEN and CRACKER -- has initiated a $150 million class-action lawsuit against SPOTIFY in the CENTRAL DISTRICT COURT OF CALIFORNIA YESTERDAY (DECEMBER 29th) for offering songs to users without the permission of the copyright holders. LOWERY has retained the law firm of MICHELMAN & ROBINSON LLP to represent him in the case.
The suit filed by LOWERY, currently a professor of music business at the UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA, would allow other copyright holders to join the action. The suit alleges that artists and record labels whose music was used without permission are entitled to recover revenue and proceeds estimated to be at least $150 million, allowing for judgements between $750 and $30,000 for each infringed work and up to $150,000 per song for willful infringement. It claims SPOTIFY "knowingly, willingly and unlawfully reproduces and distributes copyrighted compositions without obtaining mechanical licenses."
SPOTIFY, as an on-demand streaming service -- as opposed to alternatives like PANDORA -- must get permission from copyright holders to offer a song, either for free as an ad-supported option or for a subscription of $10 per month. Several prominent artists, such as TAYLOR SWIFT, JASON ALDEAN and ADELE, have withheld albums from SPOTIFY.
Major labels have made it clear they would like to see SPOTIFY -- like competitors APPLE MUSIC and TIDAL -- go to an all-paid subscription service as opposed to the micropayments they now receive per stream. SPOTIFY supporters insist that increased streaming will eventually form the basis of a new music business accounting system.
"SPOTIFY’s unlawful reproduction and/or distribution of [LOWERY's] and class members’ copyrighted works has substantially harmed and continues to harm plaintiff and the class members," the lawsuit alleges.
The suit comes amidst ongoing negotiations between SPOTIFY and the NATIONAL MUSIC PUBLISHER'S ASSOCIATION in which the streaming service has created a $17 million to $25 million reserve fund to pay royalties for pending and unmatched song use. The action insists those funds have been "wrongfully withheld from artists," and asks for the court to enjoin SPOTIFY from continued copyright infringement; from further violations of CALIFORNIA BUSINESS & PROFESSIONS CODE 17200; injunctive relief that requires SPOTIFY to pay for the services of a third-party auditor to identify the works reproduced and distributed without first obtaining a mechanical license, and requires SPOTIFY to remove all such works from its services until it obtains the proper licenses.