A single clause in The Music Modernization Act, a proposed law filed for Congressional consideration just weeks ago, prompted Wixen, the publisher for 50,000 songs by 2000 songwriters including Tom Petty, Neil Young, the Doors and Weezer, to file a $1.6 billion lawsuit against Spotify alleging massive streaming of songs without the proper licences or compensation.
"We have been faced with a choice of forfeiting rights and damages, or taking action..."
Wixen and Spotify have been battling each other in the courts and in the press for months. But the fight was taken to a new level just before the new year with as the music publisher filed a $1.6 billion lawsuit against the music streamer alleging the massive streaming of songs without proper licences or compensation.
Why now? The Music Modernization Act.
Filed earlier in December, the Music Modernization Act would revamp antiquated laws governing how statutory rates are set and music is licensed. Many publishers, including Wixen, generally support the effort. But there's proposed clauses in the bill that will impact copyright holders suing over mechanical reproduction after Jan. 1, 2018.
Thus, Wixen needed to act quickly, and did.
“We are very disappointed that these services will retroactively get a free pass for actions that were previously illegal unless we actually file suit before Jan. 1, 2018,” said Wixen president Randall Wixen in a statement. “Neither we nor our clients are interested in becoming litigants, but we have been faced with a choice of forfeiting rights and damages, or taking action at this time. We regret that this otherwise admirable proposed bill has had this effect, and we hope that Spotify nonetheless comes to the table with a fair and reasonable approach to reaching a resolution with us. We are fully prepared to go as far forward in the courts as required to protect our clients’ rights.”