Rough Week at Spotify

August 1st, 2011

Barely in the US for two weeks and Spotify has been hit with a patent lawsuit and some bad press about a controversial cookie.

Last week, PacketVideo sued Spotify for patent infringement, claiming that Spotify is using elements of a music delivery technology patent secured by PacketVideo in the 90′s.  The patent broadly covers a “device for the distribution of music in digital form,” including wireless devices.  Spotify replied witht he following: “PacketVideo is claiming that by distributing music over the internet, Spotify (and by inference any other similar digital music service) has infringed one of the patents that has previously been acquired by PacketVideo.  Spotify is strongly contesting PacketVideo’s claim.”  PackVideo is looking for a permanent injunction, damages, and treble damages because they argue the violation is willful.  Read the filing here.

On July 29, researchers at UC Berkley published research disclosing that Spotify (and Hulu too) has been using a controversial cookie that can’t be deleted and works even if the user blocks cookies or operates the browser in stealth mode.  The cookies actually respawn (I find the constant use of this word in the paper especially disturbing for some reason) once they are deleted.  So basically, even if you opt out of all tracking options, you will still be tracked.  After the research was published, both Hulu and Spotify allegedly removed the cookies.  “We take the privacy of our users incredibly seriously and are concerned by this report,” a Spotify spokeswoman told Wired.  ”As a result, we have taken immediate action in suspending our use of Kissmetrics whilst the situation is investigated.”  This may not mean much for users who have already downloaded and used Spotify, as the cookies were enabled in that earlier version.