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NMPA DINGS SPOTIFY IN COPYRIGHT CEASE-AND-DESIST

The National Music Publishers' Association has sent Spotify a cease-and-desist over what it claims are unlicensed uses of musical works in the DSP's video offerings, remix feature and podcasts, furthering a debate over lower mechanical-royalty rates associated with the streamer's premium subscription plans.

"It has come to our attention that Spotify displays lyrics and reproduces and distributes music videos and podcasts using musical works without the consent of or compensation to the respective publishers and/or administrators (our members) who control the copyrights in the musical compositions," reads a letter from the NMPA to Spotify. "As such, these uses of musical works on the Spotify platform are not licensed or will soon become unlicensed."

The communiqué continued, "Regardless of the mechanical and public performance licenses Spotify may have, however, the use of lyrics and music in videos and podcasts on its platform requires rights that must be negotiated directly with rightsholders in a free market. Spotify thus appears to be engaged in direct infringement by hosting unlicensed musical works in its lyrics, videos and podcasts, and by distributing unauthorized reproductions, synchronizations, displays and derivative uses of these musical works to its users. Making matters worse, Spotify profits from such infringement."

Spotify called the action "a press stunt filled with false and misleading claims," commenting further, "It’s an attempt to deflect from the Phono IV deal that the NMPA agreed to and celebrated back in 2022. We paid a record amount to benefit songwriters in 2023, and we are on track to exceed this amount in 2024. Spotify is a platform for licensed content. We are committed to the integrity of our platform, and we have a clear process in place for rightsholders to contact Spotify about any content they believe is unlicensed."

However, the move was lauded by the Recording Academy's Songwriters + Composers wing, which said in a statement, "Songwriters provide the foundation of the music we love, and they should always be paid fairly. The CRB settlement reached in 2022 marked a welcome step forward in cooperation between digital platforms and publishers. We are disappointed that Spotify appears to be focused on cutting costs at the expense of songwriters instead of continuing in that spirit of cooperation. The Recording Academy Songwriters + Composers Wing continues to stand with songwriters, and we will work to ensure that they are fully valued and appropriately compensated for the work they do that enriches our lives."

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