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Warner Sues Spotify In India, Spotify Hits Back Accusing Major of Reneging on Agreed Deal

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MUMBAI (CelebrityAccess) – Warner Music Group (WMG) has today (Feb. 25) filed an injunction in Mumbai court against Spotify to prevent the streaming giant from being able to gain rights to the Warner/Chappell Music (WCM) publishing catalog as part of its long-awaited launch in India.

The core issue is that Spotify is currently attempting to utilize a statutory license, which is most commonly used by broadcasters in the region to clear the performance rights to music for TV and radio, to circumvent the fact that WMG is refusing to sign a deal that allows the platform access to its publishing catalog.

Warner/Chappell Music’s publishing catalog currently contains over 1 million copyrights.

In a statement, a Warner Music Group 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.

“We had no choice but to ask an Indian court for an injunction to prevent this. It’s our goal to hammer out a deal that works for everyone. We hope this is just a speed bump in the expansion of our long and successful global partnership.”

This morning, Spotify hit back, offering a bit more insight into the situation: “Warner Music Group (WMG) instructed Warner/Chappell Music (WCM) to file for an injunction in an attempt to leverage WCM’s local Indian publishing rights, to extract concessions in WMG’s global renewal negotiations for musical recordings. WMG revoked a previously agreed upon publishing license for reasons wholly unrelated to Spotify’s launch in India.

“All other major labels and publishers have already agreed on economics and to license their music, and Spotify has also entered into a license with the local collecting society, while WCM remains the lone hold-out needed for a Spotify launch in India.

“WMG’s abusive behavior would harm many non-Warner artists, labels and publishers, and prevent Spotify from competing in the market, leaving us no choice but to file for a statutory license. This statutory license, which allows for application to internet-based services, prevents WMG’s abusive practices, while ensuring all rights holders are compensated fairly.

“Under the statutory license, Spotify will pay WCM and their rights holders rates that are in-line with the rates Spotify agreed to pay the leading Indian music entities, ensuring everyone involved will benefit from the new audiences and significant revenue the Indian market will bring. We will continue to assess our options at this stage.”

Spotify has spent the past several months negotiating license deals with all three major labels, as well as publishers (including T-Series, whose Bollywood and domestic repertoire spans more than 160,000 songs), indies and domestic labels. Contracts with Universal and Sony Music are reportedly close to being concluded, however, clearly, the jury is still out on the Warner Music deal.

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