Music labels sue Pandora over pre-1972 recordings

The streaming music service is violating New York law by not paying artists, the lawsuit alleges

Five music labels have filed a lawsuit against streaming music service Pandora Music, saying the company is violating state law by refusing to pay labels and artists for its use of recordings made before 1972.

U.S. copyright law doesn't cover recordings made before 1972, but the five music labels -- Capitol Records, Sony Music Entertainment, UMG Recordings, Warner Music Group and ABKCO Music & Records -- argue that Pandora's use is a violation of New York state law.

The actions by Pandora and other music services have cost the labels tens of millions of dollars a year, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. The pre-1972 recordings are played on some of the most popular stations on Pandora, including '50s Rock 'n' Roll, '60s Oldies, Motown, Doo-Wop and Classic Soul, the RIAA said.

The songs include some of the "most iconic music in the world," the labels said in their complaint, filed in New York state court in Manhattan. They include works by the Beatles, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, the Monkees and The Who.

Pandora, in a recent regulatory filing, noted that "the time, effort, and cost of securing such licenses could be significant and could harm our business and operating results," lawyers for the labels wrote.

Pandora said it was reviewing the lawsuit and didn't have an immediate comment.

RIAA members filed a similar lawsuit in California against SiriusXM last September.

Recordings made before Feb. 15, 1972, aren't covered by U.S. copyright law, but they are covered by state law. Sound recordings were first given federal copyright protection in 1972. The "scope of protection and of exceptions and limitations to that protection is unclear," the U.S. Copyright Office said in a December 2011 report on sound-recording copyright issues.

Artists Steve Cropper, Sam Moore, Dionne Warwick and Maria Elena Holly, the widow of Buddy Holly, spoke in favor of the lawsuit in an RIAA press release.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags internetlegalInternet-based applications and servicesCivil lawsuitsMusic and audioRecording Industry Association of AmericaWarner Music GroupSony Music EntertainmentCapitol RecordsUMG RecordingsSiriusXMABKCO Music & RecordsPandora Music

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?