NASHVILLE (CelebrityAccess) – Spotify CEO and President Daniel Ek is officially slated to provide an up to three-hour-long deposition as part of the years-long lawsuit battle involving his company, Eminem publisher Eight Mile Style, the Harry Fox Agency (HFA), and Kobalt Music Publishing (KMP).
Eminem music publisher, Eight Mile Style filed a lawsuit against the streaming giant for copyright infringement back in August 2019. The suit alleges that Spotify didn’t get the appropriate licenses for the hip-hop legend’s music and seeks fair royalties compensation. The lawsuit contends that Spotify “committed copyright infringement by reproducing and distributing 243 compositions in the United States without obtaining valid mechanical licenses.” Eight Mile asks for approximately “thirty-two million dollars to be divided between the composition owners” for billions of streams. The suit also focuses on the Music Modernization Act (MMA). This federal law was passed in October 2018, designed to help streamline how artists, songwriters, producers, and publishers get paid for online music streams.
Spotify, in return, filed a suit of their own, stating the Eight Mile filing “lacks merit” and bringing in KMP, whom Spotify claims gave them the licenses needed for Eminem’s music. According to DigitalMusicNews, Spotify named KMP as a third-party defendant in 2020.
Eight Mile didn’t waste time with their answer, adding the Harry Fox Agency (HFA) to the case, stating “HFA assisted the alleged infringement” alongside Spotify and that they both were corroborating a “fraudulent scheme.”
Spotify then went back to the courts, filing a motion for a protective order, shielding Ek from ever having to take the stand. The motion states, “Spotify seeks a protective order barring the deposition of Daniel Ek, Spotify President and the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer“ it continues that “Mr. Ek lacks personal knowledge of the issues; in this case, deposing Mr. Ek would result in annoyance, harassment, and undue burden and expense and testimony on the topics that Plaintiffs have identified is available from other witnesses.” By the declaration of Judge Jeffery S. Frensley, Spotify’s motion has been DENIED.
Judge Frensley rejected the motion and outlined in his decision that Spotify’s other witnesses named in this case, former global head of publishing Adam Parness, currently the global leader of publishing solutions, Lisa Selden, and current general counsel for global publishing, Lucy Bridgwood, wouldn’t be suitable replacements for the testimony of Ek himself.
“The Court finds that Spotify has not established that the testimony of any of these individuals is a complete and appropriate substitute for that of Mr. Ek. None of them appear to have access to the exact same information as Mr. Ek, in part because (aside from Mr. Duffett-Smith), none of them were with the company at the time of Spotify’s U.S. launch. The Court credits Spotify’s assertion that he is very busy indeed. Yet, the issue of proper licensing relationships with the artists whose work comprises the entirety of Spotify’s business and its sole product is surely also a matter of importance to Spotify, worthy of some of Mr. Ek’s time and attention.”
In the document’s conclusion, it states, “In recognition of the fact that Mr. Ek has denied having personal knowledge of many areas of potential inquiry, and to minimize the likely annoyance to Mr. Ek and the disruption of his schedule, Plaintiffs may take the deposition of Mr. Ek by remote means only for a maximum of three hours.”
You can read the court filings in their entirety on musictechpolicy.com.