Pandora Sued By Record Labels Over Pre-1972 Recording Royalties
April 18, 2014 at 3:53 AM (PT)
UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP, WARNER MUSIC GROUP, SONY MUSIC and independent label ABKCO, which controls the rights to many early songs by THE ROLLING STONES, have filed a lawsuit in NEW YORK State Supreme Court in MANHATTAN, "accusing Pandora of violating the state’s common-law copyright protections by using recordings of older songs without permission" reports THE NEW YORK TIMES.
The suit involves recordings made before FEBRUARY 15th, 1972, which are not subject to federal copyright protection. Songs recorded after that date are protected by federal copyright law which forces satcasters and webcasters to pay royalties to use the music. The TIMES estimates the music industry may be missing out on tens of millions of dollars in royalties.
“This case presents a classic attempt by PANDORA to reap where it has not sown,” the labels wrote 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.”
MARÍA ELENA HOLLY, BUDDY HOLLY's widow, released a statement through the RECORDING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA, which said, “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.”
A PANDORA representative told THE TIMES, "the company was confident in its legal position and looked forward to a quick resolution of the matter."