U.S. music labels sue Pandora over royalties for golden oldies

Thu Apr 17, 2014 6:36pm EDT
 
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By Joseph Ax

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Several major U.S. music companies sued Pandora Media Inc on Thursday, accusing the online streaming service of cheating them out of royalties by playing thousands of pre-1972 recordings without paying royalties.

The music in question, from musicians such as the Beatles, Louis Armstrong, Marvin Gaye and Fleetwood Mac, is "some of the most iconic music in the world," the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit, filed in New York state court in Manhattan, seeks unspecified damages and an immediate halt to Pandora's "massive and continuing unauthorized commercial exploitation" of older songs.

The plaintiffs include Vivendi SA's Capitol Records Inc and UMG Recordings Inc, Sony Corp's Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group Corp and ABKCO Music & Records Inc.

Pandora did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Federal copyright law does not apply to pre-1972 recordings, but the plaintiffs say New York state law provides copyright protection for such recordings.

"Pandora's refusal to pay plaintiffs for its use of those recordings is fundamentally unfair," the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit is not the first to seek fees from digital music companies for pre-1972 recordings.   Continued...