Spotify: Another Day In The Industry Of Human Happiness
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Fri., Aug 16, 2013
Here’s a letter from Spotify in response to Grayzone’s request on behalf of Panegyric to remove King Crimson and Robert Fripp related items from their servers.
We are responding to your takedown notice, in which you identified the following content:
"A Man, A City" (Live at the Fillmore)
"KING CRIMSON RADIO"
Please note: All references to "King Crimson Radio" must be removed. This is misleading as there is no "KingCrimson Radio" or any authorized service by this name.
"ROBERT FRIPP RADIO"
Please note: All references to "Robert Fripp Radio" must be removed. This is misleading as there is no "KingCrimson Radio" or any authorized service by this name.
Spotify respects the rights of copyright owners and for that reason we only use content where we have been authorized to do so. While we continue to investigate your claims, however, be advised that we will remove access to “A Man, A City” from the Spotify.
As for the other two claimed unauthorized links – “KING CRIMSON RADIO" and "ROBERT FRIPP RADIO” – a review of our in-bound licenses indicates that sound recordings that include performances by King Crimson and Robert Fripp are licensed to Spotify by, among others, Universal Music Enterprises, Virgin Records and A&M Records. These licenses grant us the right to display the name of the performers associated with the sound recordings on the Spotify service.
Once sound recordings are licensed for use on Spotify, our service enables a user to build a radio station based upon one or more sound recordings, including based on the performers associated with such sound recordings. This means that a user who likes music performed by King Crimson can have the Spotify service deliver, through the use of an algorithm, a radio station based upon music by King Crimson – as well as from artists that may be similar to King Crimson or whose music is liked by fans of King Crimson. The name “King Crimson” is merely used for identification purposes, does not imply any endorsement by King Crimson, and is clearly a fair use. There is nothing misleading about identifying a station based upon an initial seed artist of King Crimson – or Rihanna, Bruce Springsteen, The Who, or any other artist.
As sound recordings featuring performances by King Crimson and Robert Fripp have been licensed for use on Spotify, we will continue to use the names of those performers as seeds for radio stations selected by Spotify users and therefore will not remove the second and third links referenced above while such licenses remain in effect.
Which prompted this response from Panegyric:
Dear Spotify legal,
This quote comes from an email sent by Robert Fripp, legal owner of ALL King Crimson copyrights to Spotify on August 21st 2009:
so, please be informed: any king crimson content on your site at all is unauthorised & illegal; and you are formally notified of such by both declan, as my agent, and myself, as rights owner / controller.
This was sent to Spotify's content director at the time. It was true then. It was true in January of that year when Spotify first went live with a variety of King Crimson/Robert Fripp material, music which, as it was on the DGM label directly operated by Robert Fripp & David Singleton, could only have been delivered by DGM. DGM never delivered music to Spotify or authorised any third party to do so.
It has been true at all points since & remains true to this day.
Let me reiterate as Spotify's legal department's grasp of copyright ownership appears to be somewhat challenged:
The copyright owner of ALL King Crimson material has refused permission for ANY King Crimson material to feature on Spotify.
We asked Spotify in 2009 to tell us who had delivered this music that Spotify was giving away in breach of Robert Fripp's copyrights, but Spotify never answered.
Spotify has, since then, featured King Crimson music on its services on more than one occasion.
The copyright owner has, to date, never been paid for any of this usage.
Spotify states in its email response to Grayzone, the company requesting urgent takedowns of King Crimson material on our behalf (several requests have been necessary to draw even this inadequate response):
"a review of our in-bound licenses indicates that sound recordings that include performances by King Crimson and Robert Fripp are licensed to Spotify by, among others, Universal Music Enterprises, Virgin Records and A&M Records."
None of these companies has EVER held a legitimate license for the sale or distribution of King Crimson material in digital form.
Any King Crimson material delivered by UME has been in breach of Robert Fripp's copyrights.
Any King Crimson material delivered by Virgin Records has been in breach of Robert Fripp's copyrights.
There is no King Crimson material on any of the above labels that can or should have been delivered by these companies.
Senior lawyers at both Virgin & UMG (now the same company) are copied on this email.
If either of them can show a single instance where their respective labels or companies have had the rights to deliver King Crimson material to Spotify, then let them do so.
They won't, as no such license exists.
At this point, Spotify will, doubtless, fall back on the usual "but it was delivered to/uploaded us so it's not our fault if we made it available.." - otherwise known as the 'ignorance is always an adequate defence' line used by Grooveshark, Last.FM & other copyright thieves....
But, even this doesn't work for Spotify as the company was clearly told, in 2009, by the copyright owner, leaving no room whatsoever for any interpretation, that no King Crimson material should appear on the service.
Spotify has no rights whatsoever to any music by King Crimson.
So Spotify's willingness to repeatedly make King Crimson music available on its service - from whatever source - having been told unequivocally by the copyright owner of all King Crimson music four years ago that no such music should be made available on Spotify, can only be viewed in terms of copyright theft.
Indeed your opening statement to Grayzone is directly contradicted by your actions with regard to King Crimson music:
"Spotify respects the rights of copyright owners and for that reason we only use content where we have been authorized to do so."
The situation with Robert Fripp material may be slightly more complex due to collaborations with other artists.
However, I will address separately once I have had an opportunity to look at what's currently available on Spotify.
Any instances of Robert Fripp music where the artist did not grant a specific right to make available digitally will be the subject of immediate takedown notices.
Irrespective of this & specifically with regard to "King Crimson Radio" & "Robert Fripp Radio", "King Crimson" & "Robert Fripp" are subject to trademark protection operated by DGM on behalf of the artists.
Neither consent to having their name used in this manner & both would regard the usage of the name in association with such a "radio" as a form of endorsement/Passing Off, involving a breach of the protection offered by the respective trademarks.
As it is possible that a user of the service would regard "Robert Fripp Radio" or "King Crimson Radio" as having an association with, or recommendation from, the named artists, these services must be discontinued immediately & permanently.
on behalf of DGM
Robert Fripp also sent this letter to Spotify’s legal team
dear spotify legal,
On 14/08/2013 19:26, Spotify Legal:
Spotify respects the rights of copyright owners and for that reason we only use content where we have been authorized to do so.
how dare you! you do not, and have not, respected the rights of this copyright owner.
please note that declan's comments are accurate, represent my view of your continuing infringements, and have my full authority.
More details as things develop.