A common issue in intellectual property is the conflict among doctrines regarding reproduction and distribution of artistic works without authorisation. Recently a new nuance has been found. Spotify was recently sued by the record company “Ministry of Sound” because Spotify allowed its users to copy their music playlist. In this case, the issue is not whether there is permission from the author for reproduction, but rather whether an intellectual property right exists for these compilations.
Ministry of Sound bases its claim on work done before launching the track list into the market. They argue that this work created an intellectual creation which should receive protection from third party use. However, the consequences of this argument, if accepted, are risky. Judges will have to determine whether it is possible to talk about a copyright of a compilation, and how far the concept of a “copy” can also include the copy of a musical play list created by a different person.
Spotify, on the other hand, has made no statement regarding the lawsuit. However, they have stated that they intended to pay the various artists for the music that Spotify puts on its web site in order to offer it legally to the public, and they hope to spend more than $500,000 in 2013.
This issue is now in the hand of the U.K. Court, and there is no doubt that the resolution of this case will create a precedent in this field. The justice system must decide: first, what kind of protection should be given to a play list, and second, what constitutes a violation of this right.
Written by: Antonio Torres
Image: Sorosh Tavakoli bajo Licencia Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0)