If Spotify was hoping 2018 would see its publishing woes die down… well, Wixen Music Publishing has put those hopes to rest.

The publisher has filed a lawsuit seeking damages of at least $1.6bn for Spotify’s use of songs written by Tom Petty, Rage Against The Machine, Neil Young, Stevie Nicks and other artists/songwriters.

“Spotify brazenly disregards United States Copyright law and has committed wilful, ongoing copyright infringement,” claimed Wixen, adding that it “notified Spotify that it had neither obtained a direct or compulsory mechanical license for the use of the works”.

The lawsuit was hinted at in advance: last September Wixen filed a legal objection to Spotify’s proposed $43m mechanicals settlement in the US. Spotify’s legal response so far appears – according to The Hollywood Reporter – to be casting doubt on whether Wixen has the authority to file suit on behalf of all its songwriters.

While the lawsuit is clearly a problem for Spotify in the year of its long-anticipated move to go public, the issue here is bigger than one streaming service: proper mechanicals licensing and the matching of songs to recordings remains one of our industry’s biggest challenges to solve in 2018.

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