Major Labels Sue Sirius Radio for Millions
LOS ANGELES (CN) - Capitol Records, Sony and other major labels sued Sirius XM Radio, claiming it owes them millions of dollars in royalties for broadcasting songs recorded before 1972.
Capitol Records, Sony Music Entertainment, UMG Recordings, Warner Music Group, and ABKCO Music sued Sirius XM Radio in Superior Court.
The lawsuit resembles a federal class action against Sirius filed in New York City in August by Flo & Eddie (The Turtles), who demanded $100 million for musical artists whose copyrights were registered before 1972.
Sirius XM has profited tremendously since Sirius and SM merged in 2008, according to the new complaint.
The major labels claim Sirius XM posted revenues of $3.4 billion last year, and that nearly two of every three new cars sold in the United States now include the company's satellite radio.
"The conduct of Sirius XM presents the paradigmatic example of a commercial business that is based on, uses, and profits from the intellectual property created by and owned by others, without obtaining the right to do so, and without paying for it," the complaint states.
The lawsuit contains 17 pages of addenda, with more than 700 songs whose copyrights Sirius XM is accused of violating, including The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Louis Armstrong, The Rolling Stones, Marvin Gaye and pre-rock and roll artists from decades past.
Though federal copyright law was amended in 1972 to provide protection to sound recordings made after 1972, the statute makes clear that state law protects copyrights for songs recorded before then, the record companies say.
But Sirius XM, the only satellite radio service in the country, makes those recordings available to millions of its paying customers over dozens of classic rock and pop channels without paying a dime, according to the lawsuit.
Sirius makes tens of millions in profits by exploiting the songs without a license, the labels say: "Pre-72 recordings comprise a significant and important share of the overall body of existing musical recordings, and include some of the most popular and valued recordings in history."
They seek an injunction, imposition of a constructive trust, restitution, declaratory judgment that they own the copyrights to the long list of songs, and punitive damages, for California copyright violations, misappropriation, unfair competition, and conversion.
The record companies are represented by Russell Frackman with Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp.
Sirius XM did not immediately respond to requests for comment.