Spotify Threatens to Pull Out of Uruguay If Changes to Copyright Law Proceed

The Swedish streaming service has balked at proposed regulatory changes in the country, with musicians decrying its aggressive attitude

Photo: Tiffany Hagler-Geard/Bloomberg
August 23, 2023 | 09:33 AM

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Montevideo — Spotfiy Technology (SPOT), a service that has become indispensable for millions of music and podcast lovers around the world, including thousands of Uruguayans, but now risks losing access to it, as the Swedish-based company has threatened to withdraw from the country if it moves forward with the amendment of two copyright articles being debated in the Senate.

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On July 19, 2023, the company sent a letter to Uruguay’s Education and Culture Minister Pablo Da Silveira, requesting a review of the modifications it wants to make to articles 284 and 285 of law No. 9.739, the law that regulates copyright in Uruguay. “If the proposed reform were to become law in its current form, Spotify’s business in Uruguay could become unviable, to the detriment of Uruguayan music and its fans,” the company explained in the letter, local newspaper El País reported.

The company considers that the changes to the articles would imply an additional payment to that already made by Spotify, a situation that “would severely affect the ability to invest and provide services at reasonable prices for consumers”.

The statement also highlights that its gross margins are lower than those of traditional record stores or radio stations.


Spotify said that with that “historically low” margin, the company covers the costs of operating the business, including promoting its local and global repertoire, data portals and other tools for artists and their teams to develop new audiences on and off the platform, developing personalized recommendations for fans, and investing in its top-tier music team.

What do the proposed articles say?

The amendment to Article 284 adds social networks and the Internet as formats for which, if a song is reproduced, the performer is entitled to financial remuneration.

Meanwhile, the change that would be introduced with the amendment of article 285 means that “the agreements entered into by authors, composers, performers, directors and screenwriters with respect to their faculty of public communication and making available to the public of phonograms and audiovisual recordings” have the right to a fair and equitable remuneration.

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What the artists say

According to the newspaper El Observador, the Uruguayan society of performers (Sociedad Uruguaya de Intérpretes, Sudei) has long been demanding changes to the legislation to be able to receive money from reproductions on platforms such as Spotify and YouTube.

“It’s not that we are against platforms. We are not at all, but we want them to be distributed fairly,” Sudei spokesperson Gabriela Pintos told the newspaper.

Pintos assured that there is already legislation in other countries that has achieved that performers are paid for digital reproductions. Therefore, she considered that Spotify’s action is “aggressive”.

“If they are going to pay the same, the only thing we want is that it is better distributed. That there be legislation so that we can negotiate a percentage that corresponds to us,” Pintos said.

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