Last Monday (Feb. 25), Warner Music Group filed an injunction seeking to stop Spotify from launching in India with songs published by Warner/Chappell Music Publishing, which a judge in Mumbai deferred for a period of several weeks. That allowed Spotify to begin rolling out its service in the interim, which it ultimately did the following day, with Warner/Chappell-published songs but without WMG-owned recordings.
The legal challenge and subsequent launch heightened tensions between Spotify and the major labels, which played out in the press in the past week. Following WMG's injunction filing, Spotify accused WMG of “abusive behavior [that] would harm many non-Warner artists, labels and publishers, and prevent Spotify from competing in the market.” WMG called Spotify’s comments “appalling,” adding, “We’re shocked that they would exploit the valuable rights of songwriters without a license.”
Still, Spotify's launch is significant in India, where its biggest competitor Apple Music already operates and where local services -- and, particularly, the local Bollywood film and music industry -- largely dominate the industry. And streaming has further complicated things, raising several copyright issues that had never been addressed by Indian courts for streaming, and which could now be in play in the coming legal standoff.