Compilations take time and effort to create, and they definitely represent a market. But are they protected under copyright law?
Enter Ministry of Sound, one of the largest label groups in the world, which is now suing Spotify for copyright infringement. The lawsuit, filed in UK High Court this week, alleges that Spotify has routinely stolen its legendary playlist compilations, or at least refused to delete them from its service. Ministry of Sound has sold roughly 50 million compilations over the past two decades, according to an estimate from CEO Lohan Presencer.
The issue isn’t music that Ministry of Sound specifically controls; rather, it’s the playlists that they’ve assembled. Those are all over Spotify, often labeled ‘Ministry of Sound,’ and the subject of this suit.
The question is whether carefully-crafted playlists, and the order of songs, are protected intellectual property. “What we do is a lot more than putting playlists together: a lot of research goes into creating our compilation albums, and the intellectual property involved in that,” Presencer told the Guardian.
“It’s not appropriate for someone to just cut and paste them.”
Spotify has acknowledged the suit but has yet to comment. Presencer is being far more vocal, and pointed to numerous (and unsuccessful) discussions with Spotify. “After several rounds of legal letters, this dispute will now be settled in court,” Presencer offered in a statement. “We believe we have a clear cut case.”