Wixen Music Publishing Calls Out Spotify for Trying to 'Confuse' Its Clients Regarding New $1.6B Lawsuit
"The intention is to disenfranchise our clients' legal rights and subvert their intentions," said founder Randall Wixen, responding to a request the streaming service filed Friday.
Wixen Music Publishing is accusing Spotify of attempting to "confuse" the firm's clients in respect to its new lawsuit against the streaming giant with a request made Friday that would limit communication regarding conflicting suits.
Last week, Wixen Music filed a $1.6 billion copyright lawsuit that covers songs by Tom Petty, Weezer, Neil Young, Rage Against the Machine, The Doors, Steely Dan and many others. That lawsuit follows the publishing company's decision to opt-out of an earlier class action suit filed by singer-songwriter Melissa Ferrick and others, for which Spotify last year announced a $43.4 million settlement that is now facing final approval. Wixen Music then came forward to object that deal, resulting in its own lawsuit against the streaming giant.
Spotify's request on Friday was made to Judge Alison Nathan of the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, who is overseeing the Ferrick et al. v. Spotify USA, Inc suit, asking the judge to restrict Wixen Music and its counsel, Donahue Fitzgerald LLP, from communicating with their clients and others regarding a supplemental notice from the Ferrick suit and its extended opt-out process. Rather, Spotify would prefer that such communications go through the case's settlement administrator GCG first and for Wixen Music and its counsel to forward any questions submitted directly to them to the settlement administrator as well.
The request continues, "Wixen Music and the parties will be required to meet and confer regarding the questions and prepare an agreed-upon response to be transmitted by GCG. If Wixen Music and the parties cannot agree upon a response within two business days, they will provide a joint status report to the Court for prompt resolution."
Wixen Music founder Randall Wixen responded in a statement calling the request "totally outrageous." Wixen's suit is being tried in the Central District of California.
"Our clients look to ourselves and their attorneys as trusted advisors," he said. "To prevent us and their attorneys from having unmonitored discussions with our clients without Spotify and Court supervision prevents any discourse that would normally be privileged communications. This is clearly an attempt to prevent our clients from getting our frank input and having questions answered without the threat of Spotify reviewing and having input into those discussions."
Wixen added he is hopeful Judge Nathan will reject "reject this request outright."
Among Wixen's concerns is that requirements included in the request would "confuse" his firm's clients, making it difficult to remove themselves from the Ferrick suit, should they want to. With these conflicting suits, he said many of their clients likely already believe that the publishing company is representing them and are likely to ignore a new opt-out notice as such.
"As if this weren't enough, Spotify and Ferrick class counsel propose to set up further road-blocks for opting out of the Ferrick suit including forbidding our clients' managers, business managers, spouses, agents, and attorneys from confirming that Wixen Music Publishing, Inc. and Donahue Fitzgerald LLP in fact represent them, having such confirmations go through a third party claims administrator who doesn't possess accurate information on how to contact our clients, and enforcing a slim 30-day period for 538 such affirmations of representations to be obtained," he continued. "Without any doubt, the intention is to disenfranchise our clients' legal rights and subvert their intentions."
Since filing its lawsuit last week, Wixen Music claims it has hundreds of "affirmative communications" with its clients supporting the actions taken on their behalf. It also said many major songwriters who it does not represent, a major management company and three major law firms have all reached out to ask if they can take part in Wixen's Ferrick suit opt-outs and to join the Wixen Music Publishing, Inc. v. Spotify USA, Inc. suit.
"We remain optimistic that we can continue a meaningful dialog with Spotify," added Wixen, "and are hopeful that we can put these matters behind us with a fair resolution that works for all parties."
Spotify declined to comment for this story.