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David Lowery and Melissa Ferrick’s Spotify lawsuits combined

By | Published on Wednesday 25 May 2016


I think we all know there’s going to be quite a bit of consolidation in the streaming music market in the near future, so it seems appropriate that there’s been a bit of consolidation in the streaming music litigation domain too. Who doesn’t love a merger?

So, yes, the two big mechanical royalty lawsuits fired against Spotify in the US back in December and January are now one combined action co-headlined by David Lowery and Melissa Ferrick.

You all know the story by now: streams exploit the mechanical as well as performing rights in songs, no industry-wide mechanical rights collecting society in the US, so operate under the compulsory licence, but have to alert songwriters, don’t know who the songwriters are, hire the publishing sector’s Harry Fox Agency to deal with it, doesn’t work, mechanicals go unpaid, songwriters sue, we’ll have $350 million in damages please thank you very much.

Both Lowery and Ferrick want class action status for their lawsuits, which would mean any affected songwriters could claim damages if the two cases prevailed in court. Spotify is trying to stop the cases getting that class action status, while concurrently trying to sign up as many independent publishers and songwriters as possible to a settlement agreed with America’s National Music Publishers Association, which forbids signatories from joining Lowery or Ferrick’s legal claims.

Having the Lowery and Ferrick cases – which were remarkably similar – merged simplifies things for Team Spotify to a point. And the Californian judge overseeing the cases says that she now expects Spotify to file motions to dismiss the combined case and/or move the litigation to New York.

And so the whole messy mess continues.