Record labels sue XM Radio for selling music

Music labels sued XM Satellite Radio Inc. in New York District Court on Tuesday for infringing their copyright by allowing subscribers to record songs.

XM Satellite Radio is infringing the copyright of music labels by allowing its subscribers to record songs, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Music fans who subscribe to XM Radio and own an Inno recorder from Pioneer can use the cell phone-size device to listen to satellite radio broadcasts, record songs, then replay them as MP3 files.

On Tuesday, the RIAA said XM was committing "massive wholesale infringement" of copyright sound recordings, and asked the court to stop XM's broadcasts and award it damage payments.

By allowing listeners to record MP3 files, XM is acting as a competitor to legal online music stores such as Apple's iTunes, Napster and Rhapsody, the RIAA said. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

In fact, XM Radio is marketing the Inno as an alternative to the Apple iPod, using the advertising phrase "It's not the pod, it's the mothership."

The RIAA is an industry group that includes major music labels such as Atlantic Recording, Capitol Records, Motown Record, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Virgin Records American and Warner Bros. Recording.

Its members deny they are opposed to satellite radio in general. "We celebrate the growth of XM and Sirius. We think the downloading capability of XM's Inno is attractive and appealing -- it just needs to be licensed," the RIAA said in a statement.

A spokesman for XM Radio did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

Listeners have been able to legally record songs off commercial, analog radio stations for years.

The RIAA says this is different because the broadcast is digital, so XM subscribers can scan through a broadcast and record only certain songs.

They can store a lot. The Inno's 1G byte of storage can hold about 50 hours of music, or 1,000 songs. As future devices deliver greater memory, that storage capacity could easily swell to 10,000 songs, said the RIAA.

In fact, retailers have been selling Pioneer's US$400 Inno since March, and XM is already promoting new devices, such as Samsung's Helix.

At that rate, the RIAA fears no one will ever buy music from the labels again.

"Because XM makes available vast catalogues of music in every genre, subscribers will have little need ever again to buy legitimate copies of plaintiffs' sound recordings," the RIAA said.

That would be a lot of listeners. XM currently broadcasts 170 channels of music to 6 million U.S. subscribers, each paying a subscription fee of about US$12.95 per month. XM projects that its subscriber base will reach 9 million by the end of 2006.

In its lawsuit, RIAA says that XM already has the ability to stop the practice. XM currently embeds software code in its encrypted satellite transmissions that deletes saved songs if a user stops paying his XM subscription fee. RIAA says XM could use that same code to prevent users from recording certain songs.

This lawsuit is similar to one that the RIAA brought against XM's rival, Sirius Satellite Radio. In that case, Sirius agreed to make it harder for listeners to record specific songs on its S50, a handheld satellite radio similar in size and price to the Inno.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ben Ames

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?