Music copyright laws have been a fact of life for ages when it comes to the protection of songs. But the new culture of music streaming in conjunction with social media and peer-to-peer sharing has brought up an intriguing new question: what about protecting playlists?

Dance brand and record label Ministry of Sound is suing Spotify for refusing to remove user playlists from their service that mimic the MoS compilation albums, claiming the “skill and expertise required to assemble them” warrants a right to copyright entire playlists as a form of intellectual property. While Spotify has the rights to all the individual songs included in these compilations and therefore can legally stream them to the public, it is when someone pulls these songs and molds them into a playlist that replicates a Ministry of Sound compilation that they feel the line needs to be drawn.

It’s an interesting argument, and one that could potentially open the door to a boatload of legal issues going forward. If the High Court does indeed side with Ministry of Sound, the copyrighting of playlists and compilations could become a commonplace thing… complete with commonplace legal battles.

The NOW! Music compilation series has suffered similar playlist “imitations,” but instead of fighting it they teamed up with Spotify on an app. Presently, Ministry of Sound has no interest in doing anything of the sort. They license their tracks from other labels, so unless they can find a way to make money from curation in a Spotify app instead, they simply can’t see the benefit in it. Unfortunately this solution simply doesn’t seem possible right now, but could be in the future. That is, if the two can put aside their differences and make amends… which could be tricky with Ministry of Sound’s CEO publicly claiming that it is “dangerous to support Spotify.”

This one will be a case to follow as it moves forward, and similar unchartered legal territory within the music industry will surely continue to be encroached upon. Andy Sellars, a staff attorney for the Digital Media Law Project at Harvard University, may have summed it up best: “As technology companies get innovative with technology, rights holders get pretty innovative with the law.”