Pandora face pre-1972 copyright action from major record labels

May 2014

Sound recordings, internet, broadcasting


The major record labels are now suing Pandora for exploiting sound recordings made prior to Feb. 15, 1972. Last September, a similar lawsuit was filed against Sirius XM. The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) explains that the claim arises as sound recordings didn’t begin falling under federal copyright protection until 1972 and therefore the streaming service might not be able to rely upon blanket licences from SoundExchange, the performance rights organization that collects digital and satellite royalties on the behalf of sound recording copyright owners. The record labels are testing this belief, now asserting New York state misappropriation claims over older music being streaming on Pandora saying “Pandora’s refusal to pay Plaintiffs for its use of [Pre-72] recordings is fundamentally unfair” and the companies say in their complaint “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.”

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