Court Denies WMG Injunction, Clears Spotify India Launch
[UPDATED] A Mumbai court has failed to grant Warner Music Group and it's Warner/Chappell Music publishing subsidy an injunction that would stop Spotify's launch in India. Unable to reach a direct deal with Warner/Chappell, Spotify is preparing to launch under a blanket license previously used only by TV and radio. A Spotify spokesperson reacted to the news, telling Hypebot:
“We’re pleased with today’s outcome. It ensures songwriters, artists, labels and publishers will benefit from the financial opportunity of the Indian market and that consumers will enjoy an excellent Spotify experience. As we’ve said all along, we’re hopeful for a negotiated solution with Warner based on market rates.”
Multiple sources suggests that Spotify's launch in India is imminent, perhaps as early as today.
At issue appears to be Spotify's free music tier. Most streaming users in India get their music for free or pay very little. A $9.99 Apple Music subscription costs just 20 rupees or $1.70 in India. In short, Spotify needs its free music service to find success in India and WMG knows it.
WMG has granted licences to Apple Music, JioSaavn and other free and paid music services in India. So exactly what concessions they want from Spotify remain unclear.
Spotify's loophole is India's 60+ year old copyright law and courts that have failed to define exactly what a "broadcast" is in the digital age. Spotify told Hindu BusinessLine:
“This statutory licence, which allows for application to internet-based services, prevents WMG’s abusive practices, while ensuring all rights holders are compensated fairly.
]Under the statutory licence, Spotify will pay WCM and their rights holders rates that are in line with the rates Spotify agreed to pay the leading Indian music entities, ensuring everyone involved will benefit from the new audiences and significant revenue the Indian market will bring.
We will continue to assess our options at this stage.”