On 12 February 2016, online music streaming service provider, Spotify, submitted two motions to stop a US$150 million class action lawsuit over copyright infringement fronted by Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker frontman David Lowery (‘Lowery’).
Lowery filed his class action law suit against Spotify on 28 December 2015 where he accused the streaming service of both failing to find and pay the composers and songwriters of tracks provided to its users and reproducing and distributing music without a proper license. Lowery positioned his suit so that it could include other musicians who believed they had been similarly wronged by Spotify claiming that members of the class could be identified by searching Spotify’s own database files and records.
One of Spotify’s motions was that Lowery’s case should be barred from being treated as a class action as there was “no way to determine who qualifies as a class member” because of the “thorny and often intractable” questions of identifying the owner of a song’s mechanical rights and determining if Spotify “distributed those compositions without license or authorization”. Spotify argued that the issues surrounding copyright ownership of each song for each member would vary from case to case and so would require separate trials rather than a class action.
The second motion filed by Spotify was a request for the Judge to dismiss the case due to lack of jurisdiction. This was argued on the basis that Lowery filed his initial suit in California despite the fact that Lowery lives in Georgia and Spotify is a Delaware corporation based in New York.
Both Spotify’s motions are a clear attempt to knock out Lowery’s suit based on procedural grounds, while they still remain silent on the merits of Lowery’s case.