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Lots of news on music copyright front, starting with Spotify

Congress has been busy. The legal team for music streaming company Spotify has been hard at work. Ditto for a federal judge overseeing a sprawling and big-bucks class action lawsuit involving musical royalties.

In fact, frenetic activity has seemed about par for the course recently in the vast and high-money realm that marks musical intellectual property rights and litigants that spar in that legal universe.

Spotify is front and center under that spotlight. And, reportedly, its executives felt extremely buoyed and relieved by a major development that occurred last week.

Namely, that was this: a federal court’s final approval granted on a class action settlement between Spotify and a stunning 500,000-plus musical copyright owners. A Bloomberg report notes that the plaintiffs had taken Spotify to court on an allegation that it provided their music to users “without properly securing licenses and paying royalties.” The company is now legally on the hook for $113 million in reimbursements. About 1,200 copyright holders opted out of the deal.

Pundits stress that Spotify welcomes the elimination of ongoing uncertainty provided by the settlement. They additionally note that the agreement was likely reached in the final moments preceding new federal legislation that is projected to materially alter the system applicable to musical licensing, streaming services and related matters.

The Music Modernization Act is currently working its way through Congress (the legislation was passed recently by a most impressive 415-0 vote in the House and is now being evaluated in the Senate). If – more likely when – the bill becomes law, it will simplify the industry through the creation of a single entity that will grant user licenses and both collect and distribute royalties.

As Bloomberg duly notes, that will go far toward “effectively ironing out the difficulties between copyright holders and streaming services.”

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