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Spotify Snags Copyright Office Legal Chief as Public Policy Head

Aug. 12, 2021, 7:58 PM

Spotify Technology SA has recruited Regan Smith to be its head of public policy and government affairs as the company wages its fight with Apple Inc. over competition.

Smith most recently served as general counsel and associate register of copyrights at the U.S. Copyright Office in Washington. She turned over the top legal role there last month to acting general counsel Kevin Amer.

Spotify, a podcasting and music streaming platform with its roots in Sweden, adds Smith to a legal and public policy team led by chief legal officer and head of global affairs Horacio Gutierrez, hired by the company in 2016 from Microsoft Corp.

Spotify has accused Apple of anti-competitive practices, claiming that rules by Apple’s App Store disadvantage those trying to access its services. Spotify and Apple are competitors in the increasingly crowded audio media space.

A new bill currently before the U.S. Senate would create new rules that could erode the digital marketplace dominance enjoyed by Apple and Alphabet Inc.'s Google.

Tom Manatos, Spotify’s vice president of government relations, referred a request for comment about Smith to the company’s public relations department, which confirmed the hire. Spotify and Smith declined to discuss her new position.

Smith updated her LinkedIn profile this month to show her public policy and government affairs job at Spotify, which is a newly created role at the company.

She joins Spotify after nearly seven years at the Copyright Office, where the former Chicago-based associate at Loeb & Loeb and Kirkland & Ellis was hired as an assistant general counsel in 2014. Smith was promoted to deputy general counsel two years later and took over the Copyright Office’s top legal job in 2018.

During Smith’s time at the Copyright Office, she played a role working with other branches of the U.S. government on copyright issues, while also advising on major pieces of legislation such as the Music Modernization Act and an update to an important section of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Legal Additions

The most recent federal lobbying filing by Spotify with the Senate last month shows that the company is interested in copyright, intellectual property, and licensing issues related to the Music Modernization Act.

Spotify is also deploying its in-house advocates on a range of matters related to antitrust, music and technology industry litigation, Justice Department consent decrees in those fields, and workplace diversity, per the July 19 lobbying statement.

Gutierrez, Spotify’s New York-based legal and global affairs chief, didn’t respond to a request for comment about Smith’s hire. Nor did Eve Konstan, a veteran media industry lawyer hired by Spotify last year to be its general counsel.

Bloomberg News profiled Gutierrez last month for his role leading the company’s campaign against Apple. In May, Gutierrez publicly went after the company by writing an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal titled “The Monopolist Worm in Apple.”

Securities filings show that Gutierrez wasn’t one of Spotify’s five highest-paid executives during 2020. Gutierrez currently owns nearly $1.9 million in Spotify stock, according to Bloomberg data.

Spotify has made several other legal additions to its ranks in recent months, bringing on León Cosgrove associate Diego Perez Ara last month as a legal counsel in Miami. The company also added former Showtime Networks Inc. counsel Mark Maher in February as a senior legal counsel for label licensing in New York.

In December, Spotify hired global head of compliance John Kenneth Johnson from Anheuser-Busch InBev, where the litigator spent almost four years as a regional vice president of legal, ethics, and corporate affairs. That same month Spotify hired Eve Filip, a former general counsel and data protection officer for advertising technology platform the Rubicon Project, as an associate general counsel in Los Angeles.

Spotify’s podcasting business, which the company bolstered last year by tapping Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom to handle its $250 million acquisition of Bill Simmons’ The Ringer, also got a new leader last September. Yoo-Jean Chi, an attorney and former executive vice president of business affairs at Paramount Pictures Corp., is now Spotify’s global head of business affairs and studio content.

Matthew Dysart, a former associate at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton who spent the past three years as head of podcast business affairs at Spotify, recently left the company to join San Francisco-based online learning startup Monthly as its head of business development and partnership.

Clubhouse, a social media app moving onto Spotify’s turf, hired one of its first in-house lawyers earlier this year. Skadden advised Spotify in March on its $50 million purchase of Locker Room, a sports-focused competitor to Clubhouse, which has attracted takeover interest from larger rivals.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com;
John Hughes in Washington at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com

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