Music Industry News Network [04-26-2014]

Artists And Record Companies Step Up Campaign To Be Paid For Recordings Made Before 1972


As part of a growing campaign by the music community to be paid for the use of recordings made before 1972, a coalition of major and independent record companies today filed a lawsuit against Pandora Media Inc. in New York state court. The case follows a similar lawsuit brought last fall in California against SiriusXM. These multi-billion dollar digital music firms, both hugely successful and publicly traded on Wall Street, refuse to pay artists and rights holders for the use of these classic recordings in their programming just because they were created before 1972.

Through a quirk of history, federal copyright law did not protect sound recordings until 1972. Recordings made before 1972 -- staples of digital music services like Pandora -- are protected by laws in New York and other states. These so-called "pre-1972" recordings - songs of the 60's and Woodstock generation -- are some of the most popular on Pandora, extensively featured in stations such as "50s Rock 'n' Roll," "60s Oldies," "Motown," Doo-Wop," "Classic Soul," along with countless others. Yet the company refuses to compensate artists and record labels for the use of those iconic recordings. SoundExchange estimates that the failure of these services to pay for their use of pre-1972 recordings deprives artists and labels of tens of millions of dollars every year - a number that will only increase as these services become more popular.

According to the complaint filed today:
Pandora's refusal to pay Plaintiffs for its use of [Pre-72] recordings is fundamentally unfair. Pandora's conduct also is unfair to the recording artists and musicians whose performances are embodied in Pre-72 Recordings, but who do not get paid for Pandora's exploitation of Pre-72 Recordings. It is also unfair to other businesses that compete with Pandora but obtain licenses and pay for the right to stream Plaintiffs' Pre-72 Recordings to the public, while Pandora does not. As a result, Pandora deprives Plaintiffs and their artists of compensation, while profiting enormously from and gaining an unfair advantage over others who do pay to copy and publicly perform Plaintiffs' Pre-72 Recordings.


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