Record Labels Sue Pandora for Royalties on Songs Made Pre-1972
April 21, 2014 9:13 AM
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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.”
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RE: Legal Standing?
4/21/2014 11:08:00 AM
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.
"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes
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