Eminem’s publishing company Eight Mile Style filed a major copyright infringement lawsuit against Spotify late Thursday, claiming that the streaming giant has no license to host about 250 of Eminem’s songs, while also taking aim at the Music Modernization Act, the federal law enacted last year to improve royalty payments for songwriters. The news was first reported by The Hollywood Reporter.
The suit, filed in Nashville Wednesday, accuses Spotify, the $26 billion Stockholm-based streaming behemoth, of not living up to its obligations under the MMA, while also targeting the act itself.
It claims that Spotify has streamed Eminem’s work billions of times without a license. “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,” it reads. It also says that Spotify has placed “Lose Yourself” into a category called “Copyright Control,” a category for songs for which the owner is not known, calling it “absurd” that Spotify would be unable to locate the copyright owner of “one of the most well-known songs in history.”
Contacted by Variety, a rep for Spotify had no comment.
Representing Eight Mile in the case is attorney Richard Busch, who represented Marvin Gaye’s heirs in the pivotal 2015 “Blurred Lines” case, which saw the family winning a $5.3 million decision against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams on the grounds that their song infringed on the copyright of Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up.” He also previously lodged a dispute against Universal Music Group questioning whether digital downloads should be categorized as “licenses” or “sales.”
While the Music Modernization Act, signed into law by President Trump last October, was viewed as a huge victory by songwriters and the publishing community, Eminem’s lawsuit takes aim at what it describes as weaknesses in the act.
“First, by its terms, the MMA liability limitation section only applies to compositions for which the copyright owner was not known, and to previously unmatched works (compositions not previously matched with sound recordings), and not to ‘matched’ works for which the DMP [Digital Music Provider] knew who the copyright owner was and just committed copyright infringement,” Eight Mile’s complaint reads in part, asserting that Spotify “did not engage in the required commercially reasonable efforts to match sound recordings with the Eight Mile Compositions as required by the MMA.”
The MMA in part offered a form of amnesty for previous copyright infringement, and Eight Mile is contesting that element’s constitutionality, and says Spotify and “knew what they were doing” in 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.”
Rap artist Eminem. (Photo by Marion Curtis/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images)
White American rapper Eminem, winner of the Best Hip Hop act award, makes his acceptance speech at the 1999 MTV Europe Music Awards. (Photo by Chris Bacon - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01: Photo of EMINEM (Photo by Nigel Crane/Redferns)
NEW YORK CITY - SEPTEMBER 9: Rapper Eminem attends the 16th Annual MTV Video Music Awards on September 9, 1999 at the Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD - AUGUST 18: Rapper Eminem attends the Source Hip-Hop Music Awards on August 18, 1999 at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 1 -- Pictured: Musical guest Eminem performs on October 7, 2000 -- (Photo by: Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
378549 01: Hip Hop Artist Eminem (aka Marshall Mathers III) enters the courtroom of Judge Norris Langford in Oakland County Circuit Court in Pontiac, Michigan September 18, 2000. Eminem was accused of pointing a gun at someone. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Liaison)
(EXCLUSIVE, Premium Rates Apply) Eminem at the 27th Annual American Music Awards (Photo by Barry King/WireImage)
Eminem Performing At The Reading Festival, Britain - 27 Aug 2001, Eminem (Photo by Brian Rasic/Getty Images)
Eminem during MTV European Music Awards 2002 MTV European Music Awards 2002 at Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)
Eminem during 2003 MTV Video Music Awards - Backstage and Audience at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)
Madonna and Eminem during 2003 MTV Video Music Awards - Show at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, New York, United States. ***Exclusive*** (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
Eminem during the 11th annual MTV Europe Awards 2004 at the Tor di Valle in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Anthony Harvey - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
Eminem and 50 Cent at the MTV Studios - Times Square in New York City, New York (Photo by James Devaney/WireImage)
NEW ORLEANS - OCTOBER 30: Eminem performs at the 2009 Voodoo Experience at City Park on October 30, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Barry Brecheisen/WireImage)
Eminem performs as part of the 2010 Epicenter Music Festival at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Corbis via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 05: Eminem speaks onstage at WSJ. Magazine 2014 Innovator Awards at Museum of Modern Art on November 5, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX – OCTOBER 11: Eminem performs in concert during the Austin City Limits Music Festival at Zilker Park on October 11, 2014 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Gary Miller/FilmMagic)
FILE - In this July 20, 2015, file photo, Rapper Eminem attends the premiere of "Southpaw" in New York. In a tweet Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017, Eminem said is hosting a promotional event Friday in Detroit in the style of a pop-up restaurant with a menu featuring "mom's spaghetti." The event is to promote his new album, "Revival." (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
Eminem performs at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival on Saturday, June 9, 2018, in Manchester, Tenn. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)