Is a playlist worth a copyright?

By Geisha Bar

Something I rolled my eyes hard at this week, was the news that Ministry Of Sound is suing Spotify, for the reason that Spotify users can create playlists that match the Ministry Of Sound compilation records (which they can of course then share with friends). Sure, things like copyright cases come up all the time, especially when we live in a world so largely dominated by file sharing. Awhile back, Metallica successfully sued Napster over the file-sharing of their music, which was a legit complaint (though annoying to Napster users) as the song files had not been obtained legally in the first place. However in this instance, Spotify actually have the rights to use every single one of the songs in question, and have publically stated that “every single time a track is played on Spotify, rights-holders are paid – and every track played on Spotify is played under a full license from the owners of that track.”
So what’s the deal? Ministry Of Sound are actually suing over the order into which the songs are being organised – essentially, they are trying to copyright a list. Say what? The playlists are created by the users of Spotify, not Spotify itself. Since when is a platform provider held liable for the actions of its users? (Remember that time that AFACT and all those production companies tried to sue iiNet because people with iiNet DSL connections were torrenting pirated movies? They lost.)
Ministry of Sound claim that the order into which their playlists are compiled is the fruit of many hours and dollars of research and hard work. But really, how much skill is required to make a semi-decent compilation album? I think that as making compilations is their big money-spinner, they are frantically trying to procrastinate their looming death at the hands of our digital era. One could even argue that the Spotify playlists aren’t even the same as the original Ministry Of Sound albums, as the user playlists don’t feature the somewhat-glib segueing of the tracks that Ministry Of Sound do.
So then, if you are going to agree with Ministry Of Sound in that creating a playlist requires a lot of skill, then would you also say that a DJ is only as good as his playlist? Because I would have to strongly disagree with you, if that were the case. A skilled DJ is one who knows how to read his crowd and deliver the goods – I can’t even begin to describe the feeling when you are witnessing a brilliant DJ who draws your energy out from places you didn’t even know it was stored, mix it all up right under your nose, and throw it all straight back to you threefold. And that talent has nothing whatsoever to do with a playlist.
Go home, Ministry Of Sound. You’re drunk.