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back to article Ministry of Sound sues Spotify over user playlists

Dance music empire the Ministry of Sound is suing music streaming service Spotify to protect the value of its compilation albums, in an unusual test case of European intellectual property law. The legendary clubbing empire launched proceedings in the UK High Court on Monday. It wants an injunction requiring Spotify to remove the …

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If I copy the playlist from Menstrual of Sound

and plug it in to spotify they still dont get any money from me. It might be their IP but what's the cost of a cut and paste?

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Meh

Ministry of Trolls

That is all

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Rename it!

When I see MOS, I think, Metal Oxide Semiconductor. Just rename the play lists from Ministry of Sound to something else, and then it won't "infringe" their "intellectual property."

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Re: Rename it!

Monastery of Snout

Money-stirrers of Snood

Mini Stew of Snot

Manky Style of Songs

I'm trying to think of something nice to call them but noting springs to mind for some reason

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Windows

Re: Rename it!

MOS Technology 6502.

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Happy

Re: Rename it!

Ministry of Sausages?

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Devil

Sinistry of Mound?

Here's the obvious follow up:

Will I be sued by Amazon for putting my Discworld collection into the same order on my bookshelf that they have it in the store: The Colour of Magic, The Light Fantastic, Equal Rites, Mort and so on?

What about your movies: Prometheus, Alien, Aliens . . .

Is it now protectable to have an order that makes sense? If it doesn't need to make sense, where does that put the quality of MoS's compilations?

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Re: Sinistry of Mound?

You are breaching my copyright, I have just protected the order of the Alphabet.

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Re: Rename it!

Mounds of Sniff

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Re: Sinistry of Mound?

No fan of Alien or Aliens should have the PoS that is Prometheus on their shelves...

Most of the MoS compilations I have seen have been 'mixed' (i.e. some overpaid player of CDs has pressed a few buttons to fade between tracks) and Spotify won't be able to recreate that.

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Anonymous Coward

Mountains of salt

Funny you should say that - one of my friends used to live a flat above one of the Ministry's senior employees. She claims to have attended a house party where there was the old rock-and-roll cliche of a model railway with trains transporting something that looked remarkably like salt.

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Re: Rename it!

You forgot Multitude of Sins.

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Legalese

Since it's the Ministry of Sound, does that make this a "techno squabble"?

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Re: Legalese

Or maybe techno-notice

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Coat

Re: Legalese

Court house, perhaps?

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About the only thing that MoS can do is complain about trademark infringement, and that's weak as it isn't Spotify that is naming them. The idea of a playlist of hits predates them by quite some time (the Now That's What I Call Music series of compilation discs date back to 1983 for example), I suspect that this is another example of an industry killed by the digital revolution but yet to work this out.

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Do they mix?

Having never listened to a MoS compilation, can somebody confirm if they attempt to mix or beat-match each track, or are they simply playing each track in sequence? If the former, I would say that no breach of copyright has occurred, as their IP is around the mixing, not around the order of tracks.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Do they mix?

Pretty sure the MoS CD sets I have mix tracks into each other.

C.

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Coat

Top of the Opos

1975 or earlier ;o)

Mine's the one hung over the zimmer frame...

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Re: Do they mix?

they do not. Its literally songs taken from charts and put on a CD.

Unreal they think they can claim anything..

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Do they mix?

I'm pretty sure that all the CDs I've heard are mixed, but I seem to recall in the late 90s, so possibly not any more, that you could get mixed CDs or unmixed vinyl, should you fancy yourself as a bit of a DJ.

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Re: Do they mix?

MoS do add 'value' by segueing the tracks into each other; but as you're not going to get the mixing when you just slap the individual songs into a playlist I can't see what possible reason they can have to bitch about anything.

Thrown out of court, possibly with a "Stop wasting our fucking time" fine would be my guess.

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Re: Do they mix?

All of the Ministry of Sound CDs I have are mixed, that is part of their selling point.

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Re: Do they mix?

I have their 80s Electronic Anthems and they're not mixed. So technically, they could claim that they've put the effort into researching which songs to pull together to create the compilation but that's as far as their effort has gone.

I wish I'd copyrighted some of my old mix tapes from the good old days. Oh hang on...

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Re: Do they mix?

On the whole yes MOS albums are mixed. Some of them even come with two CDs, one with the tracks individually and the other with tracks mixed together. Also they do a fair bit of work deciding what tracks to put on the compilations and the order they should be played in so I can understand they are not happy when someone copies it. What they can do about it I don't know though..

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FAIL

Re: Do they mix?

They do mix, but recently I'm sure I've found a few that start of mixing for the first 5-10 tracks but then after that they just seem to give up and the rest are just on one after another.

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Alien

Re: Do they mix?

@Bill the Sys Admin 14:50

I guarantee you've never listened to a (genuine) MoS CD then.

Although like others I fail to see a legal infringement here. Playlist without the mix is *not* a MoS product, so what if someone decides to call their playlist MoS Ibiza Chillout? It's gonna sound cr** compared to the real deal and I doubt Spotify has access to some of the mixes that MoS have.

Good publicity for MoS in their 22nd birthday year though....

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Thanks MoS

That's a pretty good idea, thanks for bringing it to my attention. I just made a Chilled House playlist, great for the working day. And yes, I named it Ministry of Sound - Chilled House.

Maybe they'll have a claim for people using the name Ministry of Sound, but I doubt they'll specifically get anything for the order in which people decide to play tracks available on Spotify. Plus, I doubt there are many (if any) of their compilations where every single remixed version of every single track is actually available (there are about 5 or 6 missing from the one I just made), rendering the playlist different to their own anyway.

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Re: Do they mix?

@McToo

"I doubt Spotify has access to some of the mixes that MoS hav"

Correct, at least for chilled house.

That's a good get-out for Spotify though; just look up every MoS compilation tracklist, ensure at least one random remix is unavailable from each one and presto, problem solved.

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Re: Do they mix?

Yup. I can confirm this. They do mix---I just checked a few of the MoS albums I have in my collection. That being so, I fail to see how they even have a case. If users are allowed to comment on spotify tracklists, they'd be much better off commenting on the playlists themselves. Something along the lines of "this is not a MoS album. The real album has different remixes of some tracks than are listed here and it's professionally mixed so that one track leads seamlessly into the next. If you want to hear this the way it was intended to be heard, then go and buy the album". Surely a much more sane/rational approach.

I notice that this is not the first time that MoS has sued someone over something that they may or may not have just grounds for. Google turned up quite a few hits for previous cases (just use "-spotify" to eliminate the current case). They may claim to be "down with the youth", but their behaviour is pure corporatism.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Do they mix?

@Neil Porter

Having seen it done, albeit at a different label, the 'research' isn't into the quality of the tracks, its over the licensing fees and conditions to have the handful of tracks you actually want on something you can sell.

The owners with in demand tracks do plenty of 'If you want that track it'll be £££s, and you'll also have to have this track for the same money. Yes, we know it's crap, but it's take it or leave it'.

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Re: Do they mix?

@Goldmember

"That's a good get-out for Spotify though; just look up every MoS compilation tracklist, ensure at least one random remix is unavailable from each one and presto, problem solved."

I disagree. If its a 12 track album, 11 of the artists made a deal with spotify to release their work, the 12th artist was busy creating a new album so didn't want to deal with lawyers ... and when they come to spotify with their latest album + the rest of their work they're not allowed to release their complete works on there because of that ruling in court? Punishing someone for being last isn't a solution.

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Go

Re: Do they mix?

The USP of MoS compilations was more accessibility: at one time, many of the tracks would have been vinyl only, and possibly available in very limited quantities.

Now the original artists are quids-in as they're getting remunerated for their plays whereas MoS is getting nothing.

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Re: Do they mix?

Spotify needs to release a plugin called "auto-mix" to do the job for any playlist to really wind MoS up. It's not hard, a quick frequency analysis to get the bpm of neighbouring tracks, and then a simple calculation to get the relative playing speeds. Ramp them in/out and Bob's your uncle. Might sound a bit s*it compared to a professional DJ who knows the intro/outro sequences a bit better, but an easy first cut. You could even have tunable lengths for mixing in/out for each track.

There was some fella on Dragons Den a while back who claimed to have patented the above, effectively, but I had my doubts about the value of that when he presented it as it's just some moderately simple maths.

I've often wondered about making something like this to ensure I get tunes to a beat I can run to.

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Re: Do they mix?

Most MOS (other than singles of course) are mixed:

http://www.discogs.com/label/Ministry%20Of%20Sound?sort=date%2Casc

Not sure how they can claim that is the same as a Spotify playlist that is obviously not mixed. They may be going for some legal grounds such as "near enough to be damaging" so it will be interesting to see how that turns out.

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Madness

Someone is trying to sue somone for copying the order of music on a CD? That 1st someone needs to find a new lawyer

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JDX
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Re: Madness

Copying the order and calling it the same name as the CD.

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Re: Madness

Right, but so what? How does that hurt or injure MOS?

What kind of business model did they really have? They license music and resell it in compilations. I can do the same thing without them by buying all the tracks and making a play list in iTunes. Or I could buy all the individual song's albums and make a mix-tape (unless British law prohibits this.)

To quote from the linked article:

... the largest part of our business comes from sales of compilation albums. ... [Spotify] does not recognise that our products have any material value. It doesn't consider them worth licensing.

They're really just mad that Spotify didn't want to double-license the same material and Presencer wants his pound of flesh.

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Re: Madness

So what - it is their brand. A brand they have been building and marketing for decades

And for the sake of argument, compiling a CD might not be the most strenuous job but you have to assume it still takes a fair amount of time for them to decide the songs to use and the ordering - real bands take ages sometimes doing the same on their albums after all. So while you coming up with the same order by chance is perfectly fine, deliberately copying their work is a bit dubious. Doing so and then distributing this USING their brand name seems a bit blatant.

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Re: Madness

I agree that the use of the trademarked name "Ministry of Sound" would be a copyright/trademark violation except that it is the end users that are naming the offending playlists, NOT Spotify who shouldn't be held accoutnable for users' decisions.

I will assume that MOS has some talent in making commercial mix tapes or they would have folded by now. It's perfectly fine to do what they do, but in all honesty they've not really produced anything "unique" IMO (at least not in the sense that the creators of the music they curated have done. But that's an entirely different debate anyway.)

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Passing off

In the European courts they should be able to succeed with Passing Off

If the compilations are close to or very similar to those that MoS release and and are using Ministry of Sound or a name that has similar phrasing it will probably be construed as Passing Off.

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Re: Passing off

If Spotify where creating the play list themselves and advertising it I would agree. However they are not.

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Pirate

Re: Passing off

Who are the users passing the list off to? At worst they might be sharing the list with friends, I doubt there is any way to charge for a list

Not a spotify user, so don't know its full capabilities, but it sounds to me like MoS are bonkers.

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Re: Passing off

You can share a playlist publically via Spotify - this is even the default behaviour in some circumstances. Which is great - there's a bloke who copies the 6Music weekly playlist and keeps it updated which I subscribe to. I don't think it makes a jot of difference seeing as it's still user generated content, but I am not a lawyer who could make a tidy profit arguing that point.

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Re: Passing off

Probably the only legal avenue that they have is protection of their trademark which, in some jurisdictions, they are obliged to actively protect or lose.

Either way, you can only protect your trademark from use by other traders. It is not like copyright where everyone is covered. These users are not traders so I can't see how Ministry of Sound would have a case at all.

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FAIL

Re: Passing off

You can just imagine the slim chance that they win and Spotify is forced to prevent users naming their play-lists 'Ministry Of Sound'. Just think how many variations of those three word would appear to work around the filter.

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Wow, really?

So club DJs are going to have to watch the order that they spin their wheels in?

Fail. Or, hopefully it'll fail anyway.

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So MOS are trying to sue spotify because I could create a playlist that recreates their collection of tracks by sourcing the tracks from either the original artist's singles or albums, some other publishers compilations or even tracks held on my own computer.

Given the amount of different club edits or mixes available for a given track the odds of me exactly replicating a MOS compilation are pretty slim.

if I then choose to call my playlist MOS ultimate collection (or whatever) then it is still none of their business UNTIL I share that playlist with others, about the only thing they can ask is that spotify prevent the sharing of playlists that exactly match their compilation names

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Well perhaps if they employed some skilled DJs to actually mix the tracks together in a creative and imaginative way they would still have a unique selling point.

If a user can just stick a load of tracks together in the same order and get a comparable experience then frankly they aren't really offering much and they deserve to lose the business.

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