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Spotify and Wixen reach settlement in $1.6bn copyright infringement lawsuit

Alyssa Clementi

 Wixen Music Publishing, an independent music publisher, has received an undisclosed settlement from Spotify, after suing the music streaming platform for $1.6bn in December of 2017. Wixen claimed that Spotify had been streaming thousands of Wixen-managed songs without the proper copyright license, effectively losing Wixen millions of dollars in loyalties.

Musical artists affected by the alleged copyright infringement included Tom Petty, Donald Fagen (Steely Dan), Neil Young and Stevie Nicks, with illegally streamed songs ranging from Petty's ‘Free Fallin' to the Doors’ ‘Light My Fire’. The lawsuit further claims that Spotify had been grossly under-paying songwriters in royalties, while still distributing “outrageous annual salaries to its executives”.

The case, which reached a settlement in December of 2018, prompted Spotify to address the need for a better working relationship between music publishers and music streaming platforms. In a statement, Spotify said the litigation rendered “a broader business partnership between the parties, which fairly and reasonably resolves the legal claims asserted by Wixen Music Publishing relating to past licensing of Wixen’s catalog and establishes a mutually-advantageous relationship for the future”.

“I want to thank Daniel Ek and Horacio Gutierrez, and the whole Spotify team, for working with the Wixen team, our attorneys and our clients to understand our issues, and for collaborating with us on a win-win resolution,” said Randall Wixen, founder and president of Wixen Music Publishing.

“Spotify is a huge part of the future of music, and we look forward to bringing more great music from our clients to the public on terms that compensate songwriters and publishers as important partners,” said Wixen. “I am truly glad that we were able to come to a resolution without litigating the matter. Spotify listened to our concerns, collaborated with us to resolve them and demonstrated throughout that Spotify is a true partner to the songwriting community”

Horacio Gutierrez, general counsel and vice president of business & legal affairs for Spotify, said: “We’d like to thank Randall Wixen and Wixen Music Publishing for their cooperation in helping us reach a solution. Wixen represents some of the world’s greatest talents and most treasured creators, and this settlement represents its commitment to providing first-rate service and support to songwriters while broadening its relationship with Spotify.”

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