Music is part of many important moments in the average life. Many people have special songs they associate with romances and breakups, vacations, proms, weddings, and even funerals. The past 35 years have seen a rapid evolution of technology, making music more accessible to more people and simplifying the process of adding songs to a personal playlist. However, such technology has been a nightmare for many musicians and songwriters as copyright law struggles to keep up with the rapid pace.
In recent years, Spotify, a digital streaming music service, has been embroiled in lawsuits with artists who claim the company has distributed their copyrighted songs without paying the required licensing fees. In particular, New York's Bob Gaudio, one of the founders of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, has complained that Spotify is not fully licensed to offer his songs. Gaudio is the songwriter responsible for the hits "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" and "Rag Doll," among many others.
In lieu of negotiating with the publisher of each individual songwriter, music distributors are required by law to pay a set licensing fee to agencies who represent groups of publishers. Spotify works with the Harry Fox Agency, but HFA does not represent the publishers of all the music the streaming service offers, including Gaudio's. While Spotify recently agreed to a $43.45 million class action settlement with other rightsholders who claimed their work was illegally distributed, this new lawsuit promises to keep alive the fight for proper licensing of copyrighted materials.
Gaudio and others feel their music has been exploited by Spotify. Songwriters and publishers in New York may agree that the heart and soul that goes into the writing and publishing of a song must be protected from such exploitation. To ensure that protection, many seek the advice of an attorney with experience in copyright law.
Source: hollywoodreporter.com, "Spotify Hit With Two Lawsuits Claiming "Staggering" Copyright Infringement", Eriq Gardner, July 18, 2017