Brought by David Lowery, lead singer and guitarist for bands Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven, the intellectual property lawsuit asserts that by failing to properly obtain mechanical licenses for certain songs it streams to its tens of millions of users, Spotify is violating the mechanical rights of Lowery and other musicians, rights which apply to musical compositions embodied in tangible media such as CDs and digital downloads.
Filed in December, Lowery claims Spotify is aware of the infringement. According to the complaint, the streaming service has publicly admitted to its failure to obtain licenses for some of the music it distributes or pay royalties to the copyright owners.
Lowery also claims that a multimillion-dollar reserve fund has been created by Spotify, which contains the allegedly withheld royalty payments.
"The existence of this fund reflects Spotify' practice and pattern of copyright infringement, wherein Spotify reproduces and/or distributes the works without first obtaining appropriate authorization or license," according to the complaint.
Further, Lowry asserts claims of direct copyright infringement and unfair business practices and seeks statutory damages awards from $750 to $30,000 for each infringed work and up to $150,000 for a willful infringement, according to the complaint.
Lowry seeks to establish a class of "hundreds or thousands" of music copyright holders. He is represented by Sanford L. Michelman, Mona Z. Hanna, Melanie Natasha Howard, David C. Lee and Ilse C. Scott of Michelman & Robinson LLP.
The case is David Lowery v. Spotify USA Inc., case number 2:15-cv-09929, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.