Spotify's India launch plan hits hurdle as Warner moves HC alleging copyright breach

Spotify is set to launch in India, even though it hasn’t secured a license to Warner’s catalogue.

Spotify is expected to launch in India very soon (early March, reports say) but Warner Music Group is planning to ensure things aren't as smooth sailing as the music-streaming service would have hoped for.

As per a Bloomberg report, Warner Music has taken to the Bombay High Court and filed an injunction to block Spotify from playing music from its catalogue on its streaming service.



Spotify has been in discussion with Warner over an agreement over the past few months but the two parties have not been able to reach a consensus. Spotify, however, was planning to go ahead and launch in India anyway.

Following the filing of the lawsuit, Spotify in a statement to Bloomberg stated that it plans to use an amendment to a 1957 Copyright law that governs radio stations to offer songs from Warner's publishing division, Warner/Chappell Music. Spotify is of the opinion that a deal with Warner is necessary for proceeding since the company owns a tiny percentage of a number of songs. But since a deal was not forthcoming, Spotify turned to a provision in the copyright law which states that "broadcaster" can license music for copyright work even if the owner of the copyright denies permission to use it.

Warner's request for an injunction is to block Spotify from leveraging this particular amendment and moving ahead with a wider launch across the Indian market.

In a response to the report, Warner stated, "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." The record label did clarify that the request for an injunction was not to stop Spotify from launching its service in India but to agree on a deal before the launch.

"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," read Warner's statement.

Spotify, meanwhile, states that Warner has "revoked a previously agreed-upon publishing license for reasons wholly unrelated to Spotify's launch in India."

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