[Will Apple go the copyleft route like Spotify and deny the existence of mechanical royalties? Will they, like Spotify, hire the notorious Christopher Sprigman? Stay tuned.]
On Sunday, Richard Garbarini, a lawyer at Garbarini Fitzgerald, filed a putative class action lawsuit against Apple Music on behalf of independent songwriter Bryan Eich, asking for $30,000 for each song the company allegedly infringed. Charging that Apple failed to license mechanical rights for the compositions it played, Garbarini asked the court to certify a class of songwriters who own the publishing rights to recordings that they submitted to Apple through aggregators like CD Baby.
The rough outline of the case isn’t new: None of the streaming services seem to have obtained all of the mechanical licenses they need to offer the songs they do and several have been sued for that. Most notably, there was a putative class-action case against Spotify, in which the court has been asked to approve a settlement. But Rhapsody was hit with a putative class-action suit last March, and last February Garbarini also filed putative class-action suits against Tidal, Slacker and Google Play. So far, though, this appears to be the first such lawsuit filed against Apple, which enjoys more music business goodwill than its rivals and resources most plaintiffs lawyers can’t match.