The UK based dance-music record label, Ministry of Sound ("MoS"), recently initiated proceedings in the UK High Court against the music streaming service Spotify. MoS claims that Spotify has refused to delete user generated playlists, created by some of its 24 million users, which imitate their compilation albums.
This is not a clear cut case of illegal downloading, however, as Spotify users are listening to individual tracks that have been licensed by the company. Instead, this case centres on whether the actual order of songs from an album can be copyrighted due to the selection and arrangement involved in creating the compilations.It has been reported that MoS is believed to be bringing its claim under section 3(a) of the UK's Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. This section provides copyright protection for databases, described as a “collection of independent works”. Irish law provides for equivalent protection under section 17 of the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000 (as amended).
This approach by the music industry to protecting its business model against digital streaming media is relatively unusual in comparison to the more common actions for infringement of the music itself. It will therefore be interesting to follow the progress of this case. Should MoS be unsuccessful, the impact on the music industry will have to be weighed against its successes in other areas (for example, where they have obtained blocking orders against ISPs in relation to unlawful music downloading sites) [see earlier articles: ISPs Remain Target for Blocking Orders in UK Courts, Music Body Asks BT to Block User Access to Pirate Bay Site; Controversial Draft Copyright Legislation Published - It's No "SOPA",Newzbin2: Mandatory Web Blocking for All ISPs? and More building of "blocks" on the web in the UK!.]