British dance music brand Ministry of Sound is taking the extraordinary step of suing Spotify for copyright infringement.
London-based MoS launched proceedings Sept. 2 in the U.K.’s High Court, claiming the subscription service had refused to delete customers’ playlists that copy its popular compilation albums.
"We want Spotify to remove the infringing playlists from their service," MoS’ CEO Lohan Presencer tells Billboard.
According to a statement, MoS says it notified Spotify and asked that the playlists be removed, but the music streaming service had "repeatedly refused to take any action."
MoS is seeking an injunction requiring Spotify to remove the playlists and to permanently block other playlists that copy its compilations. There’s also the matter of damages and costs.
A spokesman for Spotify noted that legal proceedings are underway, but declined to comment.
The legal case will test whether compilation albums qualify for copyright protection, and it puts two music biz partners on a rare collision course.
"After several rounds of legal letters, this dispute will now be settled in court. We believe we have a clear cut case," comments Presencer in a statement.
"After 20 years and more than 50 million album sales, the value and creativity in our compilations are self-evident," he adds. "We aim to ensure that our creativity is protected and respected."
Spotify’s business model has polarized many label executives and artists. Presencer, however, is among the first to take his grievances to the next level.
Presencer has a reputation as an exec who likes a fight. In 2007, MoS resigned from AIM, the U.K. independent music companies' trade body, in protest of Impala's support of WMG's bid for EMI. Presencer penned a string of fiery open-letters, and fellow AIM member Gut subsequently followed MoS' lead, and exited AIM.
MoS launched a campaign in 2010 to pursue illegal uploaders of its repertoire, and seek out-of-court settlements.
The company halted the process after it discovered that leading Internet service provider BT had deleted more than 20,000 records of customer activity that MoS had asked them to save pending a legal hearing.
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