More Coverage of the Spotify Class Action Lawsuit

Yesterday we blogged about the widespread coverage of David Lowery’s class action lawsuit against Spotify for releasing copyrighted material without first obtaining proper licenses from artists. We followed up that post with an All Things Considered NPR piece on the subject. Much more has been written on the Spotify lawsuit over the last day including the following articles that quote Sanford Michelman:

Washington Post

CNN Money

Beacon Examiner





Chicago Tribune

Sanford Michelman Discusses Spotify Class Action on NPR

Listen to All Things Considered
Sanford Michelman discusses David Lowery’s class action lawsuit against Spotify on-air with NPR’s Laura Sydell. In the piece Sanford states:

“[Spotify] should have reached out to the various artists and said we want to enter – engage in to a license with you, and enter into a royalty agreement. Just like you would in any other situation.”

Read more at NPR

Sanford Michelman Representing Musician In Class Action Against Spotify

music notesMichelman & Robinson, LLP filed a $150 Million class action against Spotify over unpaid royalties on behalf of musician David Lowery of the bands Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven. The suite alleges that Spotify unlawfully reproduces and distributes copyrighted material without first obtaining mechanical licenses. According to Courthouse News Service, Lowery “seeks class certification, an injunction preventing Spotify from infringing on copyrighted works, restitution, and compensatory and statutory damages.” CNS also quotes Sanford Michelman, the lead attorney for the class, stating:

“I hope that Spotify acts in a corporately reasonable manner. These individuals – especially songwriters – put their hearts and souls in their works.”

Read more about the case at the:

New York Times

Rolling Stone

Hollywood Reporter 


The Guardian

Daily Mail

Huffington Post


UPDATE: NPR adds additional color to the story including the following:

“Lowery’s lawyer, Sanford Michelman, says Spotify may owe tens of millions of dollars not just in unpaid royalties but for copyright infringement, which can run as high as 150-thousand dollars per violation.”

Sanford quoted by Reuters:

Hanna’s co-lead counsel, Sanford Michelman, said Spotify typically negotiates royalty amounts in advance with top artists who have the resources to defend their work, but is less diligent about tracking down the license holders of music by lesser-known or independent artists.

“This is fundamentally wrong for the entire industry,” he said. “Spotify shouldn’t be playing ‘catch me if you can.’ (Lowery) has raised his hand and said ‘I’m going to stop this.'”

CNN Money is on the case:

Lawyer Sanford Michelman, who’s representing Lowery in court, said that putting money aside to pay out royalties later is a clear indication Spotify knowingly violated copyright law. He said those have to be paid via contracts hashed out before copyrighted work is used.

“It’s like saying, ‘We know we’ve taken these people’s work, we’ve never made an attempt to find them, but we know we’re playing something without the proper license,” he said.

Mega-stars like Taylor Swift and Adele are among the artists who have kept some music off Spotify. Some have criticized streaming services for cutting into industry profits by weakening album sales and offering small royalty payments.

But Michelman said the plaintiffs in this case were never contacted by the streaming service for a contract, and therefore have not received any royalties at all. He said it’s just like “stealing a car” off the lot.

Sanford Representing Renee Benson in New Orleans Saints Case

Sanford Michelman is part of the team representing Renee Benson and her children Rita and Ryan LeBlanc in their civil suit over the future control of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans franchises. While the judge has closed the courtroom to the press, The Times-Picayune reports about the crux of the case:

“Tom Benson’s daughter Renee Benson and grandchildren Rita and Ryan LeBlanc are asking for the patriarch to be declared incompetent to manage his own affairs, arguing that he is in declining health and under the influence of his wife and close circle of executives.

In January, Benson announced he intends to leave full ownership of the Saints and Pelicans to his wife of more than 10 years, Gayle Benson, rather than to Renee, Rita and Ryan.”

The case continues on Wednesday. 

M&R Prevails On Behalf of Entertainment Companies in Closely Watched First Amendment Case

First Amendment
First Amendment

M&R attorneys Sanford MichelmanMona Hanna, Jesse Contreras and Kristen Peters won an important Ninth Circuit decision on behalf of client Rightscorp (who represents Warner Bros. and BMG Music). Rightscorp pursues copyright infringers on behalf of entertainment clients and attempts to settle with them for small fines. Plaintiffs had claimed that Rightscorp was abusing the legal process by using subpoenas to identify film and TV pirates. Some pirated movies at issue include Shawshank Redemption, Gravity and The Lord of the Rings. However, M&R argued that Rightscorp had a First Amendment right “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” While some media outlets were hostile to this argument, the Ninth Circuit ruled in favor of Rightscorp.

Read more about the win at The Hollywood Reporter.