While Spotify’s technocrats may be breathing a sigh of relief after the company’s most recent multimillion dollar settlement with songwriters, it is well to remember that the company is probably not anywhere close to out of the woods. As others have learned the hard way, once you replace the rights of songwriters and artists with your own lust for IPO riches, the lawsuits can go on for a very long time indeed. You would think that after nearly 20 years of massive infringement online, the obvious answer would suggest itself to the “get big fast” group: Don’t use music you don’t have rights to use.
Yes, that’s right. Just say no.
The typical reason given by interactive services about why their need to offer unlicensed music exceeds their desire to offer only licensed music is because of competitive pressure from YouTube. Why do they feel this competitive pressure? Because their investors tell them at every board meeting that they should feel it. But let’s be clear–I doubt that Tim Cook gets Eddie Cue in a headlock over the issue over at the Infinite Loop. If you agree, then that kind of narrows it down.
But entertain that idea for a moment, however ill founded. Why is YouTube able to sustain this competitive position that supposedly makes otherwise licensed services soil themselves with fear of being undercut and overrun by YouTube?
That’s right–the “DMCA license”, or YouTube’s absurd use of the “safe harbors” granted to them under the U.S. Copyright Act which YouTube likes to think makes them bullet proof. (Which is also what Cox Communications thought until they weren’t and is probably what Facebook thinks, too.)
So get that straight–some would say that The Golden Child (aka Spotify) is to be allowed to limp their way to the increasingly inexplicable goal of some kind of big financial reward (or “exit”) in an IPO of whatever stripe while we are all asked to look the other way and allow them the same shite arrangements that YouTube enforces through lobbying, litigation and unprecedented monopoly position (aka crony capitalism).
And you thought it was all about the “Value Gap”? Apparently not.