Legal Chaos for Spotify at the time of its launch

February 28, 2019

Spotify gets embroiled in a legal trouble revolving around Indian Copyright Law right at the time of its launch in India.

Warner Music Ltd. recently filed for an injunction against Spotify before the Bombay High Court. As per a Bloomberg report, Warner Music prayed before the Bombay High Court to block Spotify from playing music from its catalogue on its streaming service.

Bombay High Court in its recent order in the suit directed the music streaming app Spotify to deposit INR Rs. 6.5 crore (USD 918877).[1] It held that Upon receipt of the aforesaid amount of 5.28 Euro from the ICE, the Defendant shall forthwith bring the same in the Court and shall in addition thereto bring such amount as may be required to aggregate the deposited amount to be deposited in Court to the sum of Rs.6.5 Crores’.

Spotify’s relied on Section 31 D of the Indian Copyright Act and claimed that it could offer the songs on its platform pursuant to its application for obtaining a statutory licence. Section 31D states that “Any broadcasting organization desirous of communicating to the public by way of a broadcast or by way of performance of a literary or musical work and sound recording which has already been published may do so subject to the provisions of this section“.

However, it was contended by the counsel for Warner/Chappell that Section 31 D would apply only to broadcasting organizations. It was further argued that even assuming Spotify would be able to invoke the scope of Section 31 D, there are two rights involved in the streaming of music on the App – the right to communicate works to the public, and the right to reproduce the said works. A license under Section 31 D would only allow Spotify to communicate the works, and not to reproduce them, it was contended.[2]

Talking to a news daily about the suit Spotify was quoted saying, Warner revoked a previously agreed-upon publishing license for reasons wholly unrelated to Spotify’s launch in India”.[3] On the other hand, Warner was quoted stating ‘After months of negotiations, Spotify abruptly changed course and has falsely asserted a statutory license for our songwritersÔÇÖ music publishing rights in India. We had no choice but to ask an Indian court for an injunction to prevent this. It’s our goal to hammer out a deal that works for everyone. We hope this is just a speed bump in the expansion of our long and successful global partnership”.[4]

The next date of hearing is for the suit is March 25, 2019. Watch this space for more updates on the same.





[4] ibid

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