[UPDATED] Music Publishers Threaten to Sue Spotify Over Lyrics, Podcasts & More

Music publishers are warning Spotify of potential legal action due to their use of song lyrics and music videos without proper licensing. These publishers argue that Spotify’s current approach infringes on their rights and could lead to significant financial losses for songwriters. The National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) have sent a formal letter to Spotify, urging them to address these issues promptly or face legal consequences. This dispute highlights ongoing tensions between streaming platforms and music rights holders over the use of copyrighted content.

The letter accuses Spotify of not obtaining proper licenses for using song lyrics on its platform. Typically, these licenses would be granted by NMPA members, which include independent publishers as well as major companies like Sony Music Publishing, Warner Chappell, and Universal Music Publishing Group. Moreover, the NMPA demands that any unlicensed lyrics, music videos, and podcasts available on Spotify be removed immediately, or else Spotify will face copyright infringement liability for continuing to use these works.

Danielle Aguirre, EVP & General Counsel of NMPA, states in the letter:

“It has come to our attention that Spotify is displaying lyrics and distributing music videos and podcasts using musical works without obtaining consent from or compensating the respective publishers and/or administrators (our members) who control the copyrights in the musical compositions.”

Additionally in the letter, Aguirre mentions a reported ‘Remix’ feature that Spotify is developing. This feature would allow users to create altered versions of songs by adjusting their speed. The letter warns the streaming giant that releasing such a feature without obtaining proper licenses from NMPA members could result in further direct copyright infringement.

Spotify responded to swat down the claims.

“This letter is a press stunt filled with false and misleading claims. It’s an attempt to deflect from the Phono IV deal that the NMPA agreed to and celebratedback in 2022. We paid a record amount to benefit songwriters in 2023, and we are on track to exceed this amount in 2024. Spotify is a platform for licensed content. We are committed to the integrity of our platform, and we have a clear processin place for rightsholders to contact Spotify about any content they believe is unlicensed.” 

Spotify spokesperson

Stay tuned for more news!