Rapper Eminem has filed a lawsuit against Spotify through his publishing company, Eight Mile Style. The suit, filed Wednesday, alleges that the popular audio streaming platform engaged in copyright infringement by streaming more than 200 of the rapper’s songs, including “Lose Yourself.”
The suit moreover accuses Spotify of violating the Music Modernization Act (MMA), a federal law put in place recently to address issues arising from streaming services and copryright infringement. Eight Mile Style also takes aim at the law itself.
The Hollywood Reporter obtained a copy of the document, which reportedly argues that Spotify does not have a license to reproduce Eminem’s music. Here’s a direct quote from the complaint: “Spotify has not accounted to Eight Mile or paid Eight Mile for these streams but instead remitted random payments of some sort, which only purport to account for a fraction of those streams.”
Further, Spotify has allegedly put “Lose Yourself” into its “Copyright Control” category (songs in this category have no known owner). “Eight Mile attacks the ‘absurd’ notion that it can’t be identified as the owner of such an iconic song, which was the centerpiece of the 2002 film 8 Mile, hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and won an Oscar for best original song,” The Hollywood Reporter writes. “According to chart data, Eminem is among the most followed artists on Spotify with monthly listens on par with Bruno Mars, Coldplay and Taylor Swift.”
As for the MMA, which was signed into law by Donald Trump and which is supposed to simplify the task of identifying and remunerating owners of songs being streamed, Eight Mile Style alleges that Spotify is working around the new rules.
Here’s another quote from the lawsuit: “First, by its terms, the MMA liability limitation section only applies to compositions for which the copyright owner was not known, and to previously unmatched works (compositions not previously matched with sound recordings), and not to ‘matched’ works for which the DMP [Digital Music Provider] knew who the copyright owner was and just committed copyright infringement.”
The charge here is that Spotify pretended not to know who owned the rights to Eminem’s songs, thereby reducing its own liability and creating a situation in which it did not have to pay the artist as much as he legally should have been.
At any rate, the suit claims, Spotify “did not engage in the required commercially reasonable efforts to match sound recordings with the Eight Mile Compositions as required by the MMA.”
It will be interesting to see how the corporation responds.