Monday, February 10, 2014

Report: Record Labels Seek To Punish SiriusXM

A lawsuit brought by the major record labels -- Sony, Universal, Warner -- against SiriusXM has barely begun, and yet the case is skipping ahead to the issue of jury instruction.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, it's a dispute that is four decades in the making, ever since sound recordings began falling under federal copyright protection. The question the lawsuit poses is what to do about sound recordings created before 1972. The plaintiffs are attempting to use California state misappropriation claims to punish SiriusXM for allegedly not paying royalties.

To settle the issue, a California judge will need to decide whether California laws protect the public performance of pre-72 music. And so, the record labels have filed a motion so that a judge will clarify the law.

The plaintiffs believe this case is about fairness.

According to its motion, "Sirius XM unabashedly seeks to attract users to its service by offering channels dedicated to Pre-72 Recordings (including 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s channels) and by using Pre-72 Recordings to promote its channels, such as by using classic Rolling Stones recordings to advertise the 'Deep Tracks' channel and, just last week, highlighting the works of the late singer/songwriter Pete Seeger on Sirius XM's 'The Village' and 'Outlaw Country' channels. Notwithstanding the bounty that Sirius XM is receiving from its unfettered use of some of the most iconic sound recordings of all time — including recordings by artists such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Supremes, Bob Dylan, and hundreds of others — it refuses to pay the artists who created those cultural treasures, and those who own the rights to them, any portion of the millions of dollars Sirius XM makes each year from those Pre-72 Recordings."

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