In a recent move by Spotify, the music streaming platform has asked the California courts to drop a lawsuit brought on by David Lowery and also wish to prevent it from being heard as a class action case.
Lowery, frontman of the band Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker, issued a class action lawsuit against Spotify claiming that the streaming service knowingly supplied copyrighted material without obtaining the proper licensing. He is seeking to be paid $150 million in damages.
According to the complaint, penalties for Spotify can range from $750-30,000 per each violation and $150,000 for willingly violating the copyright.
In a motion filed last week, Spotify is asking the courts to not treat this as a class action lawsuit, claiming that the case is a "fatally flawed candidate" for such a classification. They don't think the lawsuit is a viable class action case, calling it a "Frankenstein monster posing as a class action," and as such cannot "plead class-wide irreparable harm."
In a separate motion, Spotify is looking to have the case thrown out entirely, or have it be transferred to federal court in New York. Spotify says that, "as a Delaware corporation headquartered in New York ... [Spotify] is not 'at home' in California." As much of their business takes place in the southern most portion of New York, they ask that the case be moved there "'for the convenience of parties and witnesses,' and 'in the interest of justice.'"
Mona Hanna, the lead partner at Michelman & Robinson who is representing Lowery told Pitchfork that this move is "a standard defense maneuver to try to avoid dealing with the merits of the complaint and trying to see if they can get a dismissal on procedural grounds." She also says, "We are very confident that this is just a delay tactic and we are going to get to the merits."
Back when the lawsuit was issued, Spotify's global head of communications and public policy, Jonathan Prince, said, "We are committed to paying songwriters and publishers every penny." He goes on to say "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. We are working closely with the National Music Publishers Association to find the best way to correctly pay the royalties we have set aside and we are investing in the resources and technical expertise to build a comprehensive publishing administration system to solve this problem for good."