Spotify’s counsel Christopher Sprigman recently made the argument in Bluewater Music Services v. Spotify that the service isn’t required to pay mechanical royalties to songwriters because they aren’t really making copies except for those covered by “fair use” and “ephemeral” exceptions. This extremely aggressive argument seems to many (but not all*) music publishing experts to be dubious and more than a little “piratey.”
IMHO this is because piracy is in the DNA of Spotify. First Spotify CEO Daniel Ek made his first millions as founder of torrenting client uTorrent. Second, one of Spotify’s early investors Sean Parker of Napster fame declared “Spotify would finish what Napster started.” Third, until 2014 Spotify in the US operated as a peer to peer service copying and distributing millions of files using the devices of their customers (and BTW this completely undermines Sprigman’s copy argument).
Now there is this from Torrent Freak:
“Spotify Threatened Researchers Who Revealed ‘Pirate’ History”