$5 million later, Spotify seems to be walking away clean.
It now looks like Spotify is soundly defeating a $200 million class action lawsuit from songwriters and publishers. Initially, Spotify faced a scary, $150 million class action lawsuit driven by longtime artist advocate David Lowery, an estimate that ultimately trickled upward towards $200 million. But quick-n-crafty dealmaking with larger publishers, the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) and the Harry Fox Agency (HFA) now appear to be attracting a critical mass of participating publishers, and deflating a mob of angry litigants.
The class action surrounded non-payments of mechanical licenses by Spotify, a specific license that seemed to be overwhelmingly ignored by the streaming giant. That was a huge whoops, intentionally or otherwise, though not a life-ending blow. Just this morning, NMPA president David Israelite indicated that a large number of publishers were opting into a voluntary agreement on the matter, one first reported by Digital Music News in early March.
Importantly, that voluntary agreement includes a promise not to participate in any legal action, which includes the ongoing class action. See how that works?
In a predictably dry account relayed by Billboard this morning, Israelite indicated that 96% of NMPA members had already opted into the agreement. “The vast majority of our members have opted into our settlement,” Israelite told Billboard scrawler Ed Christman. Since 96% basically means ‘everyone,’ and the NMPA represents a massive chunk of the overall publishing community, that leaves a dramatically reduced group of eligible participants in the Lowery-led suit.
More as this develops.