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

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 26, 2015 9:20 AM

(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 over songs recorded by the likes of the Beatles, Patsy Cline, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones.

In a regulatory filing, Sirius said the accord will let it continue broadcasting such older songs in the United States through the end of 2017. Sirius said it may also license the songs from 2018 to 2022, with royalty rates to be negotiated or determined through binding arbitration.

As part of the settlement reached on June 17, the record companies will dismiss their September 2013 lawsuit with prejudice, Sirius said, meaning it cannot be brought again.

Lawyers for the record companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The settlement resolves one part of a long-running battle between music companies and broadcasters, also including the Internet radio service Pandora Media Inc, over the playing of songs recorded before Feb. 15, 1972.

Federal copyright law does not cover such songs, though some judges have found that individual state laws entitle artists and labels to copyright protection. The recording industry has pressured Congress to pass royalty laws covering older songs.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Andrea Ricci)