Lawsuit Involving Eminem’s Music May Be Bound for the Supreme Court

The rapper’s music publisher has sued Spotify in a case with potentially massive ramifications

Eminem graffiti
The music of Eminem—seen here in a mural in Shanghai—is at the center of a high-profile lawsuit against Spotify.
Sabine Fricke/Creative Commons
By Tobias Carroll / August 25, 2019 1:22 pm

We’re living in an era of high-profile music lawsuits. Led Zeppelin, aided by the Department of Justice, is fighting a lawsuit around “Stairway to Heaven.” Katy Perry, meanwhile, recently lost a copyright lawsuit involving one of her biggest hits. And there’s another music superstar involved in a legal battle now—and while it’s slightly different from the other two, its impact might be just as massive.

The case involves Eminem and Spotify, and its path might lead all the way to the Supreme Court.

At Pitchfork, Marc Hogan has the details. Earlier this week, Eight Mile Style—Eminem’s music publisher—sued Spotify. But this isn’t just a case of an artist (or, in this case, an artist’s publisher) arguing that Spotify’s practices here were wrong—Eight Mile Style is arguing that Spotify’s actions are downright unconstitutional. Here’s Hogan on the case: 

Filed in Nashville federal court, the complaint claims that Spotify streamed the rapper’s songs billions of times without the necessary license, accounting, or payment. But whether Spotify properly paid for the use of more than 200 Eminem songs may not even be the most significant point of contention. The suit also claims that the Music Modernization Act, a law unanimously passed by both chambers of Congress last year with wide support across the music industry, violates the U.S. Constitution by restricting these types of cases.

Hogan also notes that, given the constitutional nature of Eight Mile Style’s argument, the Supreme Court might be the final destination for this case. (Slim Shady meets Notorious RBG? The mind boggles.) The entire article is well worth reading, as it details the different aspects of the case and their implications. Any of them would be fascinating on their own; taken together, they make for gripping reading.

And at the end of the day, there will likely be a veritable forest of legal documents resulting from this case. If you stacked them all up and placed them around a large room, it wouldn’t be a bad place to, well, lose yourself.

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