I Didn’t Want My Music on Spotify. So I Sued to Get It Off.

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What if your music is on Spotify, and you don’t want it to be there?  Even worse, what if your label refuses to take it down?

That was the situation in front of Swedish punk drummer Johan Johansson, who decided to litigate against his label for distributing his music to Spotify without his permission.  According to the civil action, Johansson’s label, MNW, owned the rights to masters from his previous bands KSMB and John Lenin, but lacked the contractual rights to distribute them for streaming.

“The judgment shows that a lot of music on Spotify and similar streaming services is straight piracy.”

MNW owns the recordings, so don’t they have the rights to do whatever they want with them?  Not according to Johansson, who argued that ownership was still tied to a contract that detailed specific uses and didn’t grant ubiquitous distribution rights.

Now, the Solna District Court in Sweden has agreed with Johansson’s counterargument, forcing the removal of his content.  “We have to hope that this sets a standard, and makes it clear that companies can’t exploit music without the appropriate contractual rights,” Johansson told Swedish site ETC.  “Even without a license to distribute older tracks on streaming platforms, a lot of companies simply go ahead anyway.  What this judgment shows that a lot of music on Spotify and similar streaming services are straight piracy.”

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“…the money doesn’t end up with the artists…”

All of which brings us back to a familiar problem.  “It’s important for people who pay for Spotify to see how this really works: the money doesn’t end up with the artists, and almost all the money from older recordings is kept by the record companies.”

The Swedish Musicians’ Union supported Johansson’s legal fight, which opens the possibility of similar, future cases, even via a class action lawsuit.

Top image of Johannson by Bengt Nyman, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC by 2.0); middle image from Google Maps.

13 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    “It’s important for people who pay for Spotify to see how this really works: the money doesn’t end up with the artists, and almost all the money from older recordings is kept by the record companies.”

    lol that is not unique to streaming, and is true of basically all recorded music revenue

    • dcguzman

      Dont even bother. This site have a agenda. And the lack of archived articles unlike other news sites proves it. The one in the front page are the only articles you will ever read unless you want to search for it. And for a reason, this site is founded by a former employee of SONY under Epic Records.

      He uses click bait articles to push the so called golden era of music were major record labels and radio stations have total control of production, distribution, advertisement and promotion in the industry. This site dont want alternative distribution or promotion so you always read articles like these.

    • dcguzman

      that right. this site have agenda.
      And I may not have grammar, but i have brain. I am former employee of mcdonalds and subway (pizza places sey they casnt hire me) and so i no that these are facts that i beleeve. I still only car about the isyous that mcdonalds and subway face as companys so that must be the trooth!
      thats why i reed this site , beecuz i liek proving how little i no

      • dcguzman

        Yep. Because jumping to conclusions about my real username dareen or whatever is using your brain. To tell this site honestly, I only knew torrentfreak last month I didnt even visit that site that much at all. And yeah, youre that guy. Are you now a stalker? Whats the deal with this dareen person? Did you have a bad blood with him?

  2. Anon

    Streaming is WORSE than piracy because all these large corporations are getting paid> it’s just the artists that are not being paid.

    • dcguzman

      And radios and CDs arent? As what the other dcguzman comment, use your brain. In the old golden days Clear Channel, Virgin megastore, Blockbuster Tower Records, and Columbia House have oligopoly on the movie and music distribution. Its history.

      Same as what happened in our country the Philippines. Theres no real competition. In fact, only few families and religious organizations have control of the media here even today. If you want real “artist compensation” you should support SOPA and anti-net neutrality.

      Lets see if this precious website you all love will survive. Support Remi whatever about google being a big radio store, selling stream subscriptions, CDs, vinyls and music downloads. Eliminating competition and violating anti trust laws.

  3. Anon

    Streaming is actuallly WORSE than piracy because all these large corporations are getting paid> it’s just the artists that are not being paid.

  4. JTVDigital

    And once again, this has nothing to do with Spotify, but with the record label not respecting contractual terms for the back-catalog of this artist.

  5. Anon

    My aggregator has been notified many times to remove streaming services, always claims they’ll come down, but they’re still there.

    I suspect there’s some massive collusion going on.

  6. Troglite

    Kudos to the Swedish legal system for recognizing that streaming is a new and unique type of use. Its not radio. Its not a download purchase.

    In that light, I think it makes perfect sense that new contract negotiations would be required since this new type of use was never envisioned at the time the original contract was signed. If I agree to allow a real estate agent to sell my home for $200k, it doesn’t empower them to rent my home at whatever price the agent decides is appropriate.

  7. Rickshaw

    After listening to his music, it is a shock that Spotify didn’t sue him to get his music off their service.

  8. Johan Johansson

    The headline totally misses the point, but the article never the less contains the main thing.
    I’ve got nothing against Spotify or streaming.
    I just want the big labels to treat and pay the artists fair.
    I want to stop their illegal exploitation of me and my collegues.
    These days the labels get paid by the streaming platforms.
    But they refuse to pay the artist more than close to nothing.
    And when it comes to older recordings: They don’t even own the legal rights for streaming.
    This court case establishes that you can consider most older recordings exploited on streaming platforms as piracy.
    No matter how big the label is.
    Now it’s up to the labels to set a fair standard, make decent streaming deals with the artists or release the recordings to the artists themselves.
    Thank you / Johan Johansson