Sirius XM to pay $210 million to labels over pre-1972 recordings

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Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. Sirius XM has agreed to pay $210 million to record labels for old recordings. 

(Jason Merritt / Getty Images,)

Sirius XM will pay record labels $210 million to settle a dispute over oldies, the satellite radio provider said Friday. 

The agreement with major labels Sony, Universal and Warner, plus ABKCO Music & Records, resolves one of several battles over royalties for recordings made before 1972. 

The labels’ 2013 lawsuit against Sirius stemmed from the fact that before 1972 there was no federal copyright protection for sound recordings, which instead were subject to protections that varied widely from state to state. 

The suit argued that sound recordings are protected under common law and California law and rights holders should be paid for their use.


Prior to the labels’ suit, members of the 1960s band the Turtles sued Sirius over the pre-1972 music. The case brought by the group, whose hits “Happy Together” and “It Ain’t Me Babe,” is ongoing. The labels have also sued Internet radio provider Pandora Media Inc. 

Sirius said in a regulatory filing that the settlement will allow it to “reproduce, perform and broadcast” the recordings in the U.S. through the end of 2017. As part of the settlement, it can also enter into licenses with the labels to keep playing the old songs through 2022.

The Recording Industry Assn. of America, the trade group that represents record labels, cheered the settlement. 

“This is a great step forward for all music creators,” RIAA Chairman 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 Sirius XM’s example.”


Follow Ryan Faughnder on Twitter for more entertainment business coverage: @rfaughnder

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