Streaming giant Spotify will pay $48.45 million ($43.45 million, plus $5 million in attorneys’ fees) to settle a class action lawsuit brought against the company by a handful of songwriters who accused them of not licensing or paying them for the use of their music.
David Lowery, Melissa Ferrick, the estate of bassist Jaco Pastorius and Gerencia 360 Publishing, accused Spotify of “failing to properly licensing their work before making it available to stream to its customers.” Spotify isn’t the only streaming platform that has faced such allegations; in 2016, TIDAL was hit with a $5 million class-action lawsuit by John Emanuele alleging the same practice, and once again by a Kanye West who charged them with “false advertising” over the release of The Life Of Pablo.
YouTube and SoundCloud have both had considerable troubles with licensing as well.
“This is the first time that songwriters, not one of the industry organizations, have successfully mounted a sort of corrective measure against the streaming services over this unlicensed use of their work,” Lowery, a songwriter who brought the first of two lawsuits against Spotify, said to NPR. “It’s the first time we’ve had some sort of general, broad victory like this. It’s kind of historic.”
While it’s the first time the company has settled via lawsuit, this actually isn’t the first time that Spotify has had to pay out publishers over licensing issues. In March 2016 Spotify agreed to pay publishers between $16 million and $25 million in royalties, as well as a $5 million penalty, in order to avoid any future copyright infringement lawsuits.
Spotify itself has been valued at between $4 and $8 billion.