Sirius XM to pay record companies $210 million for pre-1972 songs

Fri Jun 26, 2015 12:06pm EDT
 
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By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) - Sirius XM Holdings Inc on Friday said it agreed to pay five record companies $210 million to settle a lawsuit accusing the satellite radio company of broadcasting songs made before 1972 without permission and without paying royalties.

The settlement resolves claims by Capitol Records LLC, Sony Music Entertainment, UMG Recordings Inc, Warner Music Group and ABKCO Music & Records in a Sept. 2013 lawsuit over songs recorded by the likes of the Beatles, Patsy Cline, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones.

It ends part of a long-running battle between the music industry and broadcasters over the right to play songs recorded before Feb. 15, 1972.

Federal copyright law does not cover such songs, and the industry has pressured Congress to expand its royalty rights.

The Sirius accord resolves all claims over its prior broadcasts of the record companies' songs, which comprise 80 percent of the older music it has played, and will let it play those songs in the United States through 2017.

Sirius said it may also license the songs from 2018 to 2022, with royalty rates to be negotiated or set through binding arbitration.

The companies also agreed to dismiss their lawsuit, which was filed in a California state court in Los Angeles, with prejudice, meaning it cannot be brought again, Sirius said.

"This is a great step forward for all music creators," said Cary Sherman, chief executive of the Recording Industry Association of America. "We hope others take note of this important agreement and follow Sirius XM's example."   Continued...