The legendary compiler of dance music albums, Ministry of Sound, has settled copyright infringement proceedings it initiated in the U.K against Spotify, the massive music streaming service. 

What was the dispute?

Ministry of Sound, which is famous for its compilations including “The Annual”, “Chillout Sessions” or “Clubbers Guide”, became aware that subscribers to Spotify’s database of about 20 million songs were creating identical playlists which can be searched for and accessed by Spotify’s 24 million active subscribers.

The proceedings

Ministry of Sound alleged that the making of the playlists by Spotfiy subscribers constituted an infringement of its copyright in the compilation albums.

The law

Copyright can protect tables, databases, forms and compilations such as an anthology of poems.  However, the U.K, U.S and Australia have never dealt with a case in respect of the compilation of songs in a compilation album.

Based on what the courts have previously said, we think that many of Ministry of Sound’s compilation albums would satisfy the copyright test. There is no reason why a compilation of songs should be thought to require less independent intellectual effort as, say, a collection of poems.

Ministry of Sound would also have to prove that Spotify “authorised” the infringement by its subscribers, making it liable for their acts. 

Potential outcome

Apparently, as part of the settlement, Spotify has agreed to remove the playlists from its search function and block new subscribers from following these playlists, but not agreed that the playlists be deleted from Spotify. We reckon if Ministry of Sound had proceeded with the litigation in the UK or had a crack at Spotify here in Australia, they would’ve got up, and forced Spotifyto delete the playlists.  Now we’ll never know.