Sirius sued over not paying royalties on pre-1972 songs

The golden oldies were not covered by federal copyright law

Sirius XM Radio Inc. has not been paying for its golden oldies and has ruffled the feathers of SoundExchange Inc., a non-profit subsidiary of the Recording Industry Association of America responsible for collecting royalties from digital music services.

Satellite-radio company Sirius is allegedly refusing to pay performance royalties for any recordings made before 1972, because up until that year sound recordings were not protected by federal copyright law. The only protection these songs have are under various state laws.

In a lawsuit filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, SoundExchange claims that Sirius should have to pay royalties for all of its music, basing its argument on royalty-calculation regulations set by federal judges. Regulations set in 2013 specifically excludes money made from recordings from before 1972 as part of the gross revenue that digital music services must pay royalties on. According to The Wall Street Journal, SoundExchange plans to argue that exclusion did not exist in the previous iteration of the regulations, which were in effect from 2007 to 2012.

The disputed oldies account for around 10 percent to 15 percent of Sirius's airplay.

 

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