A federal judge on Tuesday granted final approval to a settlement on Spotify’s long-running class-action lawsuits. The news was first reported in The Hollywood Reporter.
The suits, initially brought separately by musicians David Lowery and Melissa Ferrick and later combined, alleged that the streaming giant had not properly fulfilled payment per compulsory licenses of their song compositions. Ultimately, Spotify and songwriters came to a proposed settlement of more than $112.55 million, including an cash payment of $43.55 million to class members.
Several participants objected, most publicly Wixen Publishing Group (whose roster includes Tom Petty, Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo, Dan Auerbach and others), which deemed it “procedurally and substantively unfair to Settlement Class Members because it prevents meaningful participation by rights holders and offers them an unfair dollar amount in light of Spotify’s ongoing, willful copyright infringement of their works,” it said in a filing. More lawsuits ensued, including one from Wixen claiming $1.6 billion in damages.
However, U.S. District Court Judge Alison Nathan overruled Wixen’s objections and approved the settlement, saying, “The combination of the immediate and future monetary relief, along with the non-monetary benefits provided, constitutes a significant recovery,” writes Nathan in an opinion. “Ultimately, the Court is persuaded that determining how many infringements occurred or defining the exact size of the class at this stage would undermine the benefit of the settlement in reducing litigation burden. As noted, if Plaintiffs proceeded with litigation, it is far from clear that they would have been able to establish liability or damages — or damages as significant as the recovery established in the settlement.”
She concluded that since Wixen opted out of the settlement, it no longer can challenge it.