SiriusXM to Pay Labels $210 Million over Pre-1972 Recordings

SiriusXM to Pay Labels $210 Million over Pre-1972 Recordings
Music made prior to February 15, 1972, falls under some rather murky copyright laws, and this has previously led to rights holders filing lawsuits over improper use of recordings. Now, in the wake of a long-standing legal battle, SiriusXM has settled a lawsuit in the U.S. that accused the satellite radio giant of broadcasting those decades-old songs without permission and without paying royalties.

Today (June 26) SiriusXM agreed to hand out $210 million USD (around $259 million CAD) to both independent and major labels for playing pre-1972 material. SiriusXM had apparently played pre-1972 records for years without licences or compensation. Last October, however, a California judge ruled that, even though these songs fall into a legal grey area, broadcasters aren't allowed to play them without proper licences.

This case was originally filed in September of 2013 by ABKCO Music & Records, Capitol Records, Sony Music Entertainment, UMG Recordings and Warner Music Group. These companies apparently control around 80 percent of the pre-1972 recordings that SiriusXM plays.

This settlement will allow SiriusXM to enter into new licences to play the material in question through 2022.

"This is a great step forward for all music creators," Recording Industry Association of America head Cary Sherman said in a statement. "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."

The labels have also sued internet radio service Pandora over the same legal issue, and this settlement is separate from litigation over pre-1972 songs brought by recording artists.

In related news, the copyright period for works here in Canada was just extended from 50 years to 70.