SiriusXM has agreed to pay independent and major record companies $210 million to play their recordings created before 1972.
ABKCO Music & Records, Capitol Records, Sony Music Entertainment, UMG Recordings, and Warner Music Group sued SiriusXM in 2013 over the satellite radio service’s use of pre-1972 recordings, claiming that Sirius was not paying rights holders for the use of that music.
“This is a great step forward for all music creators,” said Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) chairman & CEO Cary Sherman. “Music has tremendous value, whether it was made in 1970 or 2015. We hope others take note of this important agreement and follow SiriusXM’s example.”
Sound recordings were first given federal copyright protection in 1972. Sound recordings made before February 15, 1972 are protected under state law rather than under the federal copyright laws. That means there are a variety of legal frameworks covering pre-1972 sound recordings across a number of states. As a result, the scope of copyright protection, the exceptions to that protection and limitations to that protection are unclear. Hence the lawsuit.
Current law provides that pre-1972 sound recordings may remain protected under state laws until February 15, 2067. After that date they will enter the public domain.
In testimony before the House judiciary committee in April, Maria A. Pallante, Registrar of Copyrights recommended that Congress bring pre-1972 sound recordings under federal copyright protection.