Rapper Eminem files lawsuit against Spotify over copyright & licensing breach

Eight Mile Style, publisher of American rapper Eminem, has filed a lawsuit against music streaming giant Spotify. According to federal court documents that were submitted to The Middle District of Tennessee’s Nashville Division on Aug. 21, the Stockholm-based streaming media company may have infringed on hundreds of song copyrights under the Music Modernization Act (MMA).

The law was passed in Oct. 2018 with the intention of helping tech companies and songwriters and was a large reform for U.S. copyright laws. In short, the bill revamped Section 115 of the U.S. Copyright Act by streamlining the music-licensing process so artists, producers, songwriters and rights holders could get paid per steam.

Despite the positives of the MMA, the suit filed by Eminem’s team claims Spotify has not attained the proper licenses and should be compensated for billions of streams. Moreover, the publisher alleges Spotify willfully ignored its catalog ownership.

In one instance, Eight Mile Style cites Spotify’s reproduction and distribution of the 2002 hit “Lose Yourself”– which also won an Oscar for Best Original Song -- violated the MMA by mislabeling it as an unknown rights holder. Under this selection known as “Copyright Control,” Spotify does not license a song.

The categorization was similarly applied to over 200 other titles.

“Spotify has not accounted to Eight Mile or paid Eight Mile for these streams but instead remitted random payments of some sort, which only purport to account for a fraction of those streams,” the suit goes on to state.

At a glance, Eminem’s music has amassed more than 32 million listeners on the streaming platform. If the proper royalties have not been paid out, it could cost Spotify a hefty chunk of change that’ll impact its $26 billion market valuation. So far, Eight Mile Style is seeking statutory damages for each song in question.

Eight Mile Style is being represented by Richard Busch, who has been instrumental in a number of high-profile music publishing and copyright cases. Former clients include the family of Marvin Gaye and Joel Martin.

The lawsuit and court documents were first reported in the Hollywood Reporter.