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A law firm acting for Spotify has removed Windows software that allows users to download and remove DRM from music tracks while ignoring ads. XSpotify, which also includes ad blocking functionality, is described as a tool that “steals” Spotify encryption keys in violation of the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA.
With over 271 million users in 79 markets, Spotify is the world’s most popular music streaming service.
Its 50 million song library is accessible to 124 million paid subscribers, who enjoy additional features such as an ad-free experience and the ability to download tracks to their own devices for offline listening. These tracks are encrypted and therefore cannot be used outside of the Spotify software, at least by conventional means.
The Windows XSpotify app is a tool that is shaking up this business model. The tool has gained popularity for a number of reasons, including its ability to remove DRM from tracks stored in Spotify’s vast library and continuously download them for keeping on users’ machines.
XSpotify has gradually grown its user base, offering track downloads from free Spotify accounts (160kbps, 32-bit, 44100Hz .ogg) and premium accounts (320kbps, 32-bit, 44100 Hz .ogg) while extracting metadata such as artist, title, and album art. Considering the above and its ability to block ads, it’s no surprise that Spotify has finally taken legal action to combat the spread of the tool.
This week, Washington-based law firm Perkins Coie LLP sent a broad takedown notice to Github, where XSpotify was available for download, citing DMCA violations by the app and its developer.
“The copyrighted files on Spotify’s services are protected by encryption. Spotify uses a key to decrypt copyrighted files so that legitimate users can listen to copyrighted files through Spotify services. Spotify’s encryption system prevents users from listening to copyrighted works without Spotify’s decryption key, ”the notice said.
“XSpotify claims that this is a“ DRM bypass ”which allows users to“ download all songs directly from Spotify servers. ”XSpotify’s technology bypasses Spotify’s encryption by stealing the Spotify key and using it in a manner prohibited by Spotify, namely allowing users to access encrypted copyright protected content without authorization.
“By providing technology that bypasses Spotify’s access controls, XSpotify violates 17 USC §§ 1201 (a) (2)”, the law firm writing.
The article in US law cited by lawyers for Spotify is clear. Among other things, it states that no one shall offer to the public technology that is “primarily designed or produced for the purpose of circumventing a technological measure which effectively controls access to a work protected under that title”.
In addition to removing the main XSpotify repository, Github was also ordered to remove nearly 130 others who were carrying forks from the popular tool. At the time of writing, all repositories reported by Spotify as infringing have been removed. Of course, XSpotify is still available for download from other locations, but it’s not yet clear if its developer will continue their work after this warning shot.