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Music industry piles on Pandora, files new class action on heels of SiriusXM victory

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It’s gold rush time out there for music industry lawyers, who racked up a major court victory last week against SiriusXM, and have now doubled down with a similar lawsuit against digital radio service Pandora.

The latest legal action came on Tuesday as the 1960’s duo Flo and Eddie — who performed hits like “It Ain’t Me Babe” with The Turtles — filed a fresh class action complaint in Los Angeles federal court, demanding that [company]Pandora[/company] should pay more for playing pre-1972 sound recordings.

The legal details are mind-numbing but, broadly stated, the cases turn on a novel legal theory based on state copyright laws — laws that, in the view of many people, were superseded by 1972 updates to the federal Copyright Act.

The novel theory hit pay dirt last week, however, when a Los Angeles judge ruled, in a case that also involved Flo and Eddie, that [company]SiriusXM[/company] had to pay federal and state copyright royalties. The surprise ruling led copyright lawyers to predict a flood of follow-up lawsuits (a prediction that now seems accurate.)

As for the “sound recording” royalties in question, they represent payments for record labels and the musicians who perform the song. For companies like Pandora, such royalties would be in addition to those they already pay to songwriters and their publishers.

Tuesday’s lawsuit in California follows a similar one that the music industry filed against Pandora in New York in August, and that is still ongoing.

The litigation also coincides with a sentimental campaign by the music industry for Congress to pass a “Respect Act” bill that would further expand sound recording copyrights.

11 Responses to “Music industry piles on Pandora, files new class action on heels of SiriusXM victory”


    I already pay royalty fees to Sirius XM….so do all the subscribers. To pay more seems ludicrious, like I should just go back to listening to am/fm radio and forget about it. Artists want to get paid, and they should. But to keep getting paid, over and over, is like me getting to go to work, do something great, and never have to work anymore. That is just silly. Get paid a big paycheck, then get over yourself, do something new, or go work a real job and figure out that one hit wonders shouldn’t be millionaires. Nor should songs that are 40 years old still bring in enough money to buy million dollar houses and fund extravagant lifestyles. Seriously? Get over yourselves and be happy schmucks like me pay to have XM radio, so you get some royalty monies.

  2. I don’t mind paying a bit more for these services to be within the letter of the law but if this makes sites like Pandora extinct the recording industry assholes will have received their last penny from me. It’s all piracy from then on out.

  3. Music industry lawyers are taking a victory lap over the Federal District Court decision on pre-1972 sound recordings, a case I blogged about last week. But this is just one case, from the lowest level of Federal Courts. There will be contrasting decisions and many appeals as this issue plays out. The music industry needs to turn its collective ears to a pre-1972 sound recording by the Orioles called, “It’s Too Soon to Know.”

  4. jackdharma

    Pay the artists. They created the music. Pandora, Sirius, and other “providers” don’t charge you any less when they rip off the musicians. And you who think that everything should be free are extraordinarily short-sighted.

  5. These idiot music industry guys are so stupid. If they continue on this track, it will just lead more people to steal music and not bother paying a dime for a song. Especially with Blockchain technology out, music could become 100% free by tomorrow, they should think before just going around making stupid lawsuits..

  6. I have to wonder if these idiots will ever realize that Pandora is one of the primary reasons I am still buying music these days, because traditional radio just plays the same old garbage and Pandora introduces me to new stuff all the time.

  7. Based on one of your previous articles on the Pandora matter, I get the feeling that greed is more at play here than any particular wrongdoing on the part of Pandora.

    Are lawyers trying to get the courts to undermine the established copyrights laws concerning music royalties? Or are they simply trying to extort (and I mean extort) more money from Pandora (and the likes)?

    If AM/FM and satellite radio are allowed to pay one rate, why should streaming services have to pay a higher rate? Either the music comes from over the air or from your computing device.

    The music industry is taking a hit, but this is due more to the poor quality of music that fails to attract a loyal customer base. Today’s sound is more commercial, generic, stereotypical. Basically, we are listening to manufactured music. There is no singer loyalty because all the singers sound the same.

    No more James Brown, Joe Cocker, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Cash, Barbra Streisand…singers with distinct voices. Burt Bacharach wrote songs for Dionne Warwick because of her distinct voice.

    Nowadays, the music industry wants to make a quick and easy buck. Manufacture a song in the studio. Manipulate the sound with digital equipment. Get a group of makeup artists and fashion consultants to makes some bums off the streets look presentable. Push the product out to the masses and hope to make millions before the train wrecks.

    The music industry is using digital effects in music to cut costs, but want to charge more in royalties to those pushing out that cheap music. Nonsense.

    Flo and Eddie do not deserve any more money than what they are getting. Nothing has changed to warrant they deserve more. They are not writing any new music, which leads me to feel they are simply trying to milk the likes of Pandora.

    The law is what needs to change, not the amount Pandora should have to pay in royalties. Using the courts to circumvent this fact is part of the reason no one trusts the legal system.