Eminem’s music publisher has just hit Spotify with a bombshell lawsuit, alleging the Sweden-based music streaming service has infringed on the copyrights of hundreds of the rapper’s songs.
In court documents filed in Nashville and obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Slim Shady’s music publisher, Eight Mile Style, alleges that Spotify willfully infringed on the copyright of approximately 250 Eminem songs, resulting in “potentially billions of dollars” in damages.
The suit is also challenging the constitutionality of a recently passed music licensing law, the Music Modernization Act, a new U.S. federal regulation intended to streamline the process of musicians being paid when their music is streamed.
According to the lawsuit, Eight Mile Style alleges that Spotify has placed Eminem’s hit single “Lose Yourself” into a category called “Copyright Control,” which is supposed to be reserved for songs for which the copyright owner isn’t known. However, given the song’s ubiquity, the suit says it’s “absurd” that Spotify claims it’s unable to identify who owns the copyright to the iconic song, which was the centrepiece of Emimen’s 2002 movie “Eight Mile”.
Eight Mile Style is alleging that Spotify clearly knows who owns the copyright to that song and the other Eminem songs it streams, and goes on to question whether the Music Modernization Act is even constituational, as Spotify’s “attempt to retroactively wipe out a copyright holder’s ability to recover profits, statutory damages and attorneys’ fees” is equivalent to “an unconstitutional taking of Eight Mile’s vested property right” that violates the Fifth Amendment.
“Given the penny rate for streaming paid to songwriters, the elimination of the combination of profits attributable to infringement, statutory damages and attorneys’ fees would essentially eliminate any copyright infringement case as it would make the filing of any such action cost prohibitive, and ensure that any plaintiff would spend more pursuing the action than their recovery would be,” the lawsuit states. “In addition, with the removal of these remedies, it cleared the last hurdle for Spotify to go public, thereby reaping its equity owner’s tens of billions of dollars. The unconstitutional taking of Eight Mile’s and others vested property right was not for public use but instead for the private gain of private companies.”
Eight Mile is asking Spotify to identify how the company has “benefited from failing to secure licenses.” If Spotify is unable to demonstrate how it has benefited from not securing those licences, then the lawsuit seeks an alternative, asking Spotify to pay the maximum amount of statutory damages — $150,000 for each of the 243 songs at issue, which totals to a whopping $36.45 million.
In addition, the lawsuit also seeks “a judicial declaration that Spotify does not qualify for limitation from damages under the Music Modernization Act as well as a second declaration that the law’s retroactive elimination of damages available for copyright infringement is unconstitutional.”
You can read the lawsuit in its entirety right here.