Pandora Sued By Sony, Warner Over Copyright Infringement

On Thursday, Sony, Warner Bros, and Universal filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan against Pandora, claiming that the streaming music service is using recordings of older songs without permission.

In their lawsuit, the Big Three music companies argue that Pandora is violating New York State's own common-law copyright protections by using recordings of older songs without permission. Thus these companies believe that Pandora must not only have permission to play those songs, but to cough up the appropriate licensing fees.

"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."

As explained by the New York Times, federal copyright law dictates that online and satellite radio must get licenses to use recordings that were made after the February 15, 1972 date. Payments are made in the "hundreds of millions" to SoundExchange, a branch of the RIAA. Songs that were recorded before 1972 aren't covered under federal copyright protection, but instead are covered by "a patchwork" of state laws.

Pandora has more than 70 million regular users, followed by Sirius XM, which has around 26 million subscribers. These two popular music listening services contributed to most of the $656 million in performance royalties collected by SoundExchange in 2013, the paper reports.

Currently, it's unclear if Pandora, along with Sirius XM, will be made to license the older music. As the New York Times points out, the current wave of lawsuits reflects the current mess the music industry is in, and could shape how the industry charges for music playback.

"Just because Buddy and the other '50s musicians recorded songs before 1972 doesn't mean their songs have no value," said the widow of Buddy Holly via the RIAA. "These companies' failure to pay the rock 'n' roll pioneers is an injustice and it needs to change."

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  • daekar
    Who buys music anymore?

    And isn't there a time limit on copyrights? Copyrights were not created so huge conglomerates could accumulate the legal right to control the collective accomplishments of mankind.

    The RIAA gets no sympathy from me. If the entire music industry collected tomorrow leaving only the small Indy companies left I'd be tickled to death.
    21
  • Spectre694
    This is starting to get stupid again. It is like napster all over again.
    13
  • Martell1977
    The RIAA shot themselves in the foot long ago and now have no idea what they are doing. I can't even count how many times back in high school that I would hear a good song or two on the radio and go buy the CD, only to find that those were the only good songs and the rest were filler garbage. Or that the version I heard was a radio edit and was far superior to the album version.
    Then Napster came out, then others and they started suing their customers. Once people could buy singles, I know many people that would download the songs from an album, listen to them all and buy only the ones that actually liked. But that meant higher sales but less money as people weren't forced to pay for all the garbage.
    The families of the classic music stars got millions for the music over the years and IMO there should be a point where, unless used for commercial purposes (i.e. in advertisements, movies) should be open for free usage. If someone decides to buy a copy, great, but there should be a cut-off point.
    12
  • Other Comments
  • daekar
    Who buys music anymore?

    And isn't there a time limit on copyrights? Copyrights were not created so huge conglomerates could accumulate the legal right to control the collective accomplishments of mankind.

    The RIAA gets no sympathy from me. If the entire music industry collected tomorrow leaving only the small Indy companies left I'd be tickled to death.
    21
  • Camikazi
    Quote:
    Who buys music anymore?

    And isn't there a time limit on copyrights? Copyrights were not created so huge conglomerates could accumulate the legal right to control the collective accomplishments of mankind.

    The RIAA gets no sympathy from me. If the entire music industry collected tomorrow leaving only the small Indy companies left I'd be tickled to death.

    Believe copyrights can last from 95 years to the life of the author or more depending on how it was made. In other words they last practically forever.
    1
  • smeghead4269
    Quote:
    Who buys music anymore?


    If I had a dime for every time I've heard that question...

    Justin Timberlake sold 2.43 million copies of "20/20", which was the best selling album of 2013. So the answer to your question (and several "who buys _____ anymore" questions for that matter) is millions of people around the world. Yes, music sales are declining and will likely continue to do so, but just because you don't buy music anymore doesn't mean no one does.
    -1