Pandora is about to settle and pay the major labels for playing pre-1972 recordings but not paying royalties for their broadcast, according to a story in the New York Post.
In the U.S. there is no performance right and thus no performance royalty payment for records when they are played on the radio or in movie theaters, stores, restaurants, hotels and bars. But when the digital format emerged record labels managed to get a performance right for digital broadcast.
However, Sirius and Pandora have taken the position that since the federal master recording copyright wasn’t created until the 1972 and therefore even thought they are digital broadcasters, they don’t have to pay on pre-1972 recordings.
But record labels and artist have argued that those pre-1972 masters recordings must be paid royalties due to individual state copyright laws. The Turtles, who own their masters, were the first to sue Sirius and then Pandora for royalty payments, citing state laws in California and New York. The majors soon followed suit. So far, Sirius has settled with the majors, agreeing to pay $210 million. If the Post is correct, Pandora is now about to make a settlement too, to the tune of $90 million.
However, a Pandora spokesman said, “We don’t comment on rumor and speculation.”
WMG and UMG did not immediately respond to a req for comment. RIAA refused to comment.