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Musicians file $150M lawsuit against Spotify for copyright violations

By Amy R. Connolly   |   Dec. 30, 2015 at 6:42 AM

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Music streaming service Spotify was hit with a $150 million class-action lawsuit from independent musicians who claim copyright violations.

Musicians' rights advocate David Lowery, frontman of rock bands Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker, said his songs have been streamed thousands of times without permission, alleging Spotify "knowingly, willingly and unlawfully reproduces and distributes copyrighted" music. Each violation of a federal copyright could mean a fine between $750 and $150,000.

Spotify said it will pay "every penny" to songwriters and publishers, but "unfortunately, especially in the United States, the data necessary to confirm the appropriate rightsholders is often missing, wrong or incomplete."

"When rightsholders are not immediately clear, we set aside the royalties we owe until we are able to confirm their identities," the company added.

Lowery's attorney said Spotify's admission of putting away royalties shows disregard for copyright laws.

"It's like saying, 'We know we've taken these people's work, we've never made an attempt to find them, but we know we're playing something without the proper license," attorney Sanford Michelman said.

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