The streaming service Spotify could be in some legal trouble. Songwriter David Lowery—the frontman for the band Cracker—has filed a class-action lawsuit against the streaming music service. The suit seeks millions in unpaid royalties to independent artists, who Lowery says have had their music put on Spotify and streamed without their permission. Unlike signed artists, who work through publishing deals with record labels, many independent ones do not have licensing agreements worked out with Spotify.
In response, Spotify released a statement defending streaming music without artists’ permission, claiming, “the data necessary to confirm the appropriate rights holders is often missing, wrong or incomplete.” As his interview with NPR notes, however, in Lowery’s case, his songs are registered with the U.S. copyright office, making it easy to see who owns the rights. In their statement, Spotify says they have “set aside the royalties we owe until we are able to confirm their identities,” but Lowery’s lawyer says they could also be on the hook for copyright infringement penalties, which cost $150,000 per violation.