Monday, March 20, 2017

GA Supreme Court Rules For iHR In Copyright Case

The Georgia Supreme Court has ruled iHeartMedia’s internet radio services are exempt from a Georgia statute that makes it illegal to transfer sound recordings without the owner’s consent.

The statute allows broadcasts or similar uses to be exempt from the law.

At issue was whether iHeartRadio’s streaming qualifies as broadcasting, according to a case summary provided by a Georgia Supreme Court spokeswoman.

The Macon Telegraph reports that in Monday’s unanimous opinion, the state Supreme Court ruled at the least iHM’s services qualify as a related use to a radio broadcast because the user’s experience is nearly identical to AM/FM radio. For example, a simulcast of programing on an AM/FM station is offered on the internet, with the only difference being that the listener accesses the music through an internet-connected device instead of a traditional radio receiver.

The court goes on to say that iHeart digitally broadcasts a track to the listener for a single use. Afterward, the track disappears from the listener’s device just as the recording on a radio isn’t stored for replay.

State law governs recordings made before 1972. Congress granted federal copyright protection to recordings in 1972 and post 1972 recordings are governed by federal law.

According to legal briefs, Arthur and Barbara Sheridan own several master sound recordings of doo-wop, jazz and rhythm and blues music from before 1972 and they contend they own the intellectual property and contract rights associated with the recordings.

iHeartRadio, owned by iHeart Media Inc., offers listeners customizable music stations that stream music based on the listener’s preferences. The company also owns traditional AM and FM stations that stream broadcasts online, according to summary.

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