Record Company Sues Pandora for Displaying Song Lyrics

Can’t figure out the lyrics to your favorite song? Just scroll down on Pandora and you can get an answer…but will that cost Pandora? Wixen Music Publishing, the publisher of some big musical acts including The Doors, Tom Petty, and Cake has sued the music streaming service claiming that Pandora is committing copyright infringement by displaying musical lyrics without permission.

Wixen is no stranger to lawsuits against streaming music companies. Previously, Wixen sued Spotify for $1.6 billion dollars (insert Dr. Evil voice) for violating licensing agreements in a now settled lawsuit. Next up for Wixen is Spotify. Wixen claims to be the owner of publishing rights to such bands as Weezer, Rage Against the Machine, and Tom Petty, to name a few. Wixen claims that Spotify is posting lyrics without permission. One of the rights that is different from the right to perform is the right to display, so playing a song and posting lyrics to a song are two totally separate, and actionable, rights under copyright. Wixen claims it warned Spotify of the infringement of roughly 100 songs, but Spotify refused to take action, and therefore is being sued for willful copyright infringement.

The damages here could be staggering. For each of the 100 songs, Wixen could elect to recover statutory damages of up to $150,000 per song, in total that’s a whopping $15,000,000. Cha ching. Much like the Spotify lawsuit, I am sure a settlement will be reached. Why Pandora didn’t act early since it knew there was a dispute is a bit of a gamble.