Warner/Chappell vs. Spotify: Music rights company backed by fellow publishers in India licensing dispute

Warner/Chappell has been backed by its fellow major publishers, plus an array of indies – via global trade body ICMP – in the rights company’s fight to improve Spotify royalties for songwriters in India.

The International Confederation of Music Publishers (ICMP) met in Madrid last month, gathering together its board to discuss key issues affecting the worldwide music publishing landscape.

ICMP’s board members include the likes of Andrew Jenkins (Universal Music Publishing Group), Guy Henderson (Sony/ATV), Stephen Clark (Warner/Chappell), Ama Walton (BMG), John Minch (Concord Music) and Ralph Peer II (peermusic).

Shortly after the ICMP Board meeting, Warner/Chappell Music – a subsidiary of Warner Music Group (WMG) – issued an injunction in India against Spotify, in an attempt to block the use of its music in the region.

That move, temporarily at least, didn’t have the desired affect: Spotify launched in India last Wednesday morning (February 27) local time, after attempting to clear a statutory license for Warner/Chappell’s music without WMG’s say-so.

“ICMP and its members express their full support of Warner/Chappell Music in its actions.”

John Phelan, ICMP

That statutory license – which is more typically used by radio and TV broadcasters in India – has yet to be granted, as the Bombay High Court takes its time to mull Warner’s injunction.

In the interim, Warner Music Group and Spotify fell out very publicly (and very badly) – with the major stating that it was “shocked [Spotify] they would exploit the valuable rights of songwriters without a license”.

The company doesn’t appear to be alone in that view. In a statement sent to MBW today (March 5), ICMP said that Spotify had launched in India “despite inappropriately claiming a statutory license to use Warner/Chappell’s repertoire without its authorisation”.

ICMP Director General John Phelan said: “Music publishers worldwide work in the interest of all creators and will fight for appropriate remuneration
for all licensed use of their work.

“At the heart of this problem is the inappropriate use of music and the subsequent undervaluation of songwriters – Indian and international.

“ICMP and its members express their full support of Warner/Chappell Music in its actions.”

Spotify added over a million active users to its app in India in its first five days in the market – the equivalent of around 0.07% of the nation’s population.Music Business Worldwide

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