Swedish punk artist Johan Johansson is suing his label for making his music available on Spotify without his permission.
The civil action has been brought against Johansson’s record company MNW, (formerly Musiknätet Waxholm) which owns master rights to tracks recorded with his old bands KSMB and John Lenin, who existed in the late ’70s and early ’80s.
However, Johansson contests that MNW is not in possession of the digital distribution rights to his music, and that his bands’ contract with MNW only covered specific types of usage.
According to Swedish news site ETC, the Solna District Court has sided with Johansson, ordering the removal of his content.
The case has echos of case in Finland from March this year, where representatives of 1970s rock band Hurriganes took Universal to court in order to get their music taken off digital services.
Like Johansson, they claimed that their original contract did not cover the right for UMG to distribute their material online.
The Swedish Musicians’ Union has backed Johansson’s case.
“We have to hope that this sets a standard, and makes it clear that companies can’t exploit music without the appropriate contractual rights,” Johansson told ETC.
“Even without a license to distribute older tracks on streaming platforms, a lot of companies simply go ahead anyway. What this judgment shows that a lot of music on Spotify and similar streaming services are straight piracy.”
He added: “It’s important for people who pay for Spotify to see how this really works: the money doesn’t end up with the artists, and almost all the money from older recordings is kept by the record companies.”Music Business Worldwide