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Pandora feels confident and plans to fight in court

Record labels are in the process of suing streaming music provider Pandora for back royalties. Specifically, the record labels want to raid Pandora’s wallet for songs played that were made before 1972.
Last week Sony, Universal, and Warner Music, and ABKCO sued Pandora Media in New York State Supreme Court for playing the songs without a license. The suit alleges that Pandora violated the common-law copyright protections when Pandora used older recordings without permission.
Recordings made before February 15, 1972 aren't subject to federal copyright protection and some industry estimates believe that record labels could be missing out on tens of millions of dollars in royalties from these songs.
“This case presents a classic attempt by Pandora to reap where it has not sown,” the labels say in the suit. “Pandora appropriates plaintiffs’ valuable and unique property, violates New York law and engages in common law copyright infringement and misappropriation and unfair competition.”
The suit that has been filed seeks royalties for music made from the 1940's to the early 1970's and includes artists like the Beatles, Hank Williams, the Rolling Stones, and others. Pandora says that it is confident in its legal position and of course plans to fight.
María Elena Holly, widow of rock 'n' roll pioneer Buddy Holly, pleaded, “Just because Buddy and the other ’50s musicians recorded songs before 1972 doesn’t mean their songs have no value. These companies’ failure to pay the rock ’n’ roll pioneers is an injustice and it needs to change.”
Pandora recently increased its monthly subscription rates and ended the yearly prepaid option.

Source: NYT

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Legal Standing?
By PitViper007 on 4/21/2014 9:55:34 AM , Rating: 2
OK....So if
Recordings made before February 15, 1972 aren't subject to federal copyright protection
then what legal standing do the record companies think they have? Wouldn't that put any recording made prior into public domain?

RE: Legal Standing?
By amanojaku on 4/21/2014 10:10:35 AM , Rating: 1
Recordings made before February 15, 1972 aren't covered by FEDERAL copyright laws. The record companies are suing Pandora at the STATE level, because each state has different laws for that period. So, no, recordings made prior to that date are not in the public domain throughout the whole of the US. Yes, every song is going to have to be checked in every state.

RE: Legal Standing?
By sorry dog on 4/21/2014 10:51:40 AM , Rating: 3
“This case presents a classic attempt by Pandora to reap where it has not sown,” the labels say in the suit.

Maybe that should say the record labels are trying to re-reap ten times over what was sown over lifetime ago.

Maybe Pandora should stop paying older songs in New York state only.

RE: Legal Standing?
By Solandri on 4/21/2014 5:27:11 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, that's the real issue. With physical property, you sell it once and it's gone. You need to spend more money to manufacture another copy. With intellectual property, you sell it, and you still have it available to sell. Making copies costs nothing.

We've gone from one extreme (pre-copyright, where you can't sell IP because anyone can copy it for free once you've published it anywhere), to the other extreme (where the only way to get IP is to buy it, over and over and over again).

One of the solutions I thought of is decreasing royalty rates. The first 10,000 sales of IP, you can charge whatever you want. After that, up to 100,000 the price must be halved. Up to 1 million it's halved again. And so on. So if you release a CD at $20/ea, the moment it hits 100,000 the price must be cut to $10/ea. If it hits 1 million, it's $5/ea. 10 million it's $2.50/ea. 100 million and it's $1.25/ea.

The exact numbers can be tweaked to smooth out the jumps, but it would insure the IP-holders make a healthy profit, without giving them the leverage of a full-blown monopoly. The purpose of IP law isn't to give content creators a monopoly. The purpose is to encourage them to create content. And I think a good argument can be made that the current total monopoly provided by IP law vastly overshoots that purpose. To the point where it's distorting other parts of the economy which actually produce something (e.g. computers and electronics).

RE: Legal Standing?
By dgingerich on 4/21/2014 11:08:00 AM , Rating: 3
There's also the newer DMCA changes. While copyright doesn't cover those songs, "intellectual property" does. It's the same for many things that have had patents expire.

There are few to no state level copyright laws, and those are modeled around Federal laws. They don't have much of a standing there, but the IP laws do give them a substantial case. I don't think they'll win, as much of the DMCA is unconstitutional, but they'll certainly cost Pandora a bundle. That's mostly their plan: kill them with legal costs. They'll drag this along as long as they possibly can.

RE: Legal Standing?
By Flunk on 4/21/2014 11:18:56 AM , Rating: 2
Wait a second, don't the record companies abuse this just as badly? Haven't there been a string of artists suing record labels for producing compilations violating the same copyright laws?

RE: Legal Standing?
By villageidiotintern on 4/21/2014 12:06:31 PM , Rating: 5
There has never been an instance in history where record companies haven't exploited their affiliated artists(think Creedence Clearwater Revival, for one). Everyone is justified in exploiting the media industry. The RIAA, MPAA, and all other associated rent-seeking entities cannot die soon enough to fully benefit the citizens of this country.

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