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Eminem's music publisher claims Spotify owes millions in royalties for 'Lose Yourself' and other songs

Posted: 2:17 PM, Aug 22, 2019
Updated: 2019-08-22 15:29:31-04
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(CNN) — Eminem's music publisher has filed a copyright-infringement lawsuit against streaming giant Spotify over the hit "Lose Yourself" and more than 200 other songs.

The lawsuit alleges Eminem's songs have streamed on Spotify billions of times without their publisher, Eight Mile Style, receiving sufficient royalties.

"Spotify has not accounted to Eight Mile or paid Eight Mile for these streams but instead remitted random payments of some sort, which only purport to account for a fraction of those streams," the suit says.

The lawsuit also claims Spotify violated parts of the Music Modernization Act (MMA), a new law that aims to simplify the process by which musicians, songwriters and rights holders get compensated for music streamed online.

Spotify, the popular music-streaming service, did not respond to a request for comment from CNN.

The suit was filed Wednesday in federal court in Nashville by attorney Richard Busch, who famously helped the family of singer Marvin Gaye win a lawsuit against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams for copyright infringement over the song "Blurred Lines."

"This is an incredibly important lawsuit for all songwriters whose music appears on Spotify and other Digital Music Providers, and raises vital legal questions regarding the holding of companies truly responsible in a meaningful way if a songwriter's work has been used without permission or proper payment," Busch wrote in an email to CNN. "Beyond that, everything we have to say is set forth in the Complaint."

The lawsuit cites one of Eminem's most popular songs, "Lose Yourself." It alleges that Spotify labeled the 2002 song, along with many others, under "Copyright Control," which would classify it as having an unknown rights holder. The complaint also says it is "absurd" that Spotify claims it could not locate copyright owners "of one of the most well-known songs in history."

"Lose Yourself" was a No. 1 hit from the movie "8 Mile," in which Eminem also starred. Eight Mile Style, the company that owns the rights to Eminem's early catalogue, is named for that film.

"I can tell you that Eminem is not a party to this lawsuit," Eminem's publicist, Dennis Dennehy, wrote in an email to CNN. "The suit was filed by the publisher who owns the rights to his early catalogue. The filing was just as big a surprise to us as it was to everyone else."

The lawsuit seeks "willful statutory damages" of $150,000 for each of 243 songs. That would total $36.4 million.