What exactly did David Lowery’s attorney tell Spotify last year? That is now a critical question in a $150 million lawsuit that could expose retaliatory behavior on the part of Spotify.
Over the weekend, DMN reported that Spotify had removed David Lowery’s catalog to comply with specific legal demands. That suggested careful compliance, and nothing close to the retaliatory takedown accusations leveled against Spotify in recent months. But according to information shared by David Lowery’s attorney to Digital Music News on Monday, that assessment may have been erroneous.
In correspondence leaked last week to Digital Music News, Spotify told major labels Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group that Lowery demanded the takedown of his catalog. “We have had a letter from David Lowery’s lawyers asking that we take down all of David Lowery’s catalogue,” an email from Spotify executive Steve Savoca to multiple Universal Music Group executives stated on December 22nd, 2015.
In a similar letter to Warner Music Group, Spotify claimed that Lowery failed to identify which licenses were being contested. “Among other things, the Artist asserts that his exclusive rights to copyrights in musical works and/or sound recordings have been infringed by Spotify’s exploitation of the applicable musical work and/or copyright,” Spotify wrote.
Perhaps more critically (bold added by DMN): “The artist did not identify whether he is seeking a publishing or sound recording claim for each work, so we have listed all of the affected Warner tracks.”.
According to Lowery’s attorney, Mona Hanna of Michelman & Robinson LLP, those statements were at best deliberately misrepresented. “Spotify’s statement that their take down of all of Camper Van Beethoven songs from their website is a result of a request from Lowery’s lawyers is disappointing,” Hanna emailed DMN. “In fact, what the letter requested was ‘we hereby confirm Mr. Lowery’s demand that Spotify remove from its platform those songs by Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven for which Spotify has failed to secure the required mechanical licenses relating to those musical compositions…”
That doesn’t sound ambiguous, and according to Hanna, could demonstrate bullying behavior against problem artists. “So, to me it appears that the take down of all the songs is either an admission by Spotify it did not have the proper license to play those songs, or I would have to conclude that it was, in fact, retaliatory,” Hanna noted.
“Either way Spotify is not acting in a corporately responsible manner. It is not acting in compliance with the law and is taking an adverse position against the artists it relies upon for its profits.”
Correction: In our initial coverage on Monday, we incorrectly spelled Mona Hanna’s name.
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