[UPDATED] The court has approved the settlement of combined class action lawsuits originally brought against Spotify for copyright infringement by musicians David Lowery and Melissa Ferrick. The settlement guarantees an artist compensation of $43.4 million plus future royalties. The full settlement totals $112.55 milliion.
The ruling came despite objections of major music publisher Wixen and several songwriters and publishers who argued that the settlement was too small.
"The court heard a lot of testimony and did the best it could under the circumstances," attorney and artist advocate Christian Castle tells Hypebot. "It’s still far and away the most money anyone has gotten so far from Spotify’s gross and willful infringement of song copyrights. Next time maybe they’ll pay more attention to the little guy."
Wixen and other objectors are exempted from the settlement, as are National Music Publishers Association members and others who agreed to a separate NMPA settlement with Spotify.
If, as expected, the Music Modernization Act currently before Congress becomes law, only those who filed suit prior to January 1st, 2018 will be allowed to take action against Spotify and other music streamers. Wixen Music Publishing preemptively filed seeking $1.6 billion in statutory damages prior to the deadline.
"Another group of songwriters in that 'takings; category would be those whose works were infringed by Spotify only after June 29, 2017 as those infringements would not be covered by the class settlement as I read it.," says Castle. "Because of the reachback safe harbor, copyright owners whose works were infringed only after June 29, 2017 would potentially have their rights taken by the Congress if their infringement claim was still within the three-year statute of limitations on January 1. They may still not understand the pretzel logic that the MMA is about to lop off their rights if it passes."
"These situations tee up either a solid set of facts to bring a Constitutional challenge to MMA if anyone wants to take the risk of suing, or a good demonstration of the 'in terrorem' effects of the reachback," concludes Castle.