Spotify, the popular music streaming service, just launched its service in India– but without the support of Warner Music Group (WMG). On February 25, WMG filed an injunction against Spotify in an effort to prevent the streaming service from unlawfully using its publishing rights in India. On February 26, Bombay’s High Court put a pause on Spotify’s application for a statutory license but also postponed Warner’s request for an injunction for several weeks. Notwithstanding the court’s decision, Spotify launched in India later that day. According to the court’s ruling, Spotify must submit records of any use of WMG’s music in India, in addition to records of all revenues generated by user consumption of that music.
Last March, Spotify publicized its plan to launch in India, after having opened an office in Mumbai and hiring 308 staff members. Before its introduction to the Indian market, Spotify had been negotiating licensing deals for several months with major music labels – but to date, it has been unable to find mutually agreeable terms with WMG. To circumvent this and move forward with its launch, Spotify is asserting it has a statutory license –a license that is applied automatically, and typically used by TV broadcasters and radio stations.
In response to Spotify’s claim over a statutory license a WMG spokesperson said, “After months of negotiations, Spotify abruptly changed course and has falsely asserted a statutory license for our songwriters’ music publishing rights in India.” WMG said it “had no choice but to ask an Indian court for an injunction.” In its defense, Spotify accused Warner of “attempt[ing] to leverage [WMG’s] local Indian publishing rights, to extract concessions in WMG’s global renewal negotiations for musical recordings.”
According to Spotify’s CEO and founder, Daniel Ek, Spotify is “launching a custom-built experience” that will allow Spotify to “bring Indian artists to the world [and] bring the world’s music to fans across India.”
Spotify is rumored to launch next in Russia, meaning more battles could be on the horizon.