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Spotify asks judge to trim down Sosa Entertainment lawsuit

By | Published on Monday 28 September 2020


The back and forth between Spotify and American independent music firm Sosa Entertainment continues, with the former last week asking the judge to remove some of the claims included in the latter’s lawsuit against the streaming firm on the basis they fail “as a matter of law”.

Sosa sued Spotify last year. It accuses the streaming firm of “unfair and deceptive practices”, mainly in relation to Spotify’s decision to remove the Sosa catalogue from its platform. That move also lost Sosa its membership of indie label digital rights group Merlin.

Spotify then countersued in May, arguing that it dropped the Sosa catalogue because it suspected the label – and its founder Jake Noch – of fraudulently manipulating streams of that music in order to boost its share of the monthly royalties pot.

In a strongly worded legal filing, Spotify said there were “blatant signifiers of artificial streaming” linked to Sosa’s recordings, concluding that “Jake Noch is a fraudster who has engaged in a multi-year campaign to generate artificial streams on Spotify’s online music service”.

Noch responded in similarly bold language, stating: “Spotify’s claims are laughable and blatantly false. A company such as Spotify, that is built on the theft of intellectual property, puts every single one of its shareholders at risk. I foresee Spotify becoming the next Enron”.

And, in case you wondered, the bold language continues in Spotify’s latest filing with the courts last week: “This case arises from the efforts of plaintiff and counterclaim defendant Sosa to escape the consequences of its own wrongdoing by asserting baseless claims against Spotify”.

“It is apparent that – while none of Sosa’s claims have any merit – three of them so plainly fail as a matter of law to warrant judgment on the pleadings”, Spotify’s latest filing continued, before setting out the three specific elements of Sosa’s lawsuit that Spotify thinks should be chucked out by the court with immediate effect.

That includes claims Sosa makes under the US Lanham Act, which sets out laws regarding trademarks and false advertising.

Spotify says that, even if you accept Sosa’s allegations that the streaming firm misleadingly suggested that the music company had violated its fraudulent stream rules – which it doesn’t, but even if you did – such bad conduct would not be covered by any provisions of the Lanham Act, as Sosa has claimed.

It also states that “because Sosa cannot state a claim under the Lanham Act, Spotify is entitled to judgment on the pleadings on Sosa’s unfair competition claim [too]”, and that “Sosa’s unjust enrichment claim is improperly pleaded and pre-empted by the Copyright Act”.

With that in mind, Spotify wants the judge to cut the Lanham Act, unfair competition and unjust enrichment claims from the Sosa lawsuit now, while the rest of the legal battle between the two companies proceeds.

We await Sosa’s response with interest.