Sirius Royalties Dispute Sent to Copyright Board

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The Copyright Royalty Board, not court, is the proper venue for a $50 million royalty dispute against Sirius XM, a federal judge ruled.
     Rather than paying royalties to each individual copyright holder, Sirius XM – the country’s only satellite radio service -instead pays royalties to SoundExchange, a nonprofit that collects royalties from distributors like Sirius XM and dishes them out to the copyright owners, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon’s Tuesday ruling explains.
     SoundExchange sued the satellite radio provider last year, claiming that the amount of royalties it owed for the copyrighted music it plays had been miscalculated to the tune of $50 million over six years.
     “SoundExchange alleges that Sirius XM ‘devised its own definition of Gross Revenues – a definition that substantially reduced its royalty payments to SoundExchange,” Leon wrote. “Specifically, SoundExchange complains that Sirius XM improperly (1) reduced Gross Revenues by an amount it estimated was attributable to pre-1972 sound recordings; (2) excluded from Gross Revenues the revenue received from the price difference between its standard package and its premier package, the latter of which includes additional talk channels, but no additional music channels; and (3) excluded revenue derived from its Family Friendly and Mostly Music packages.”
     But the judge accepted Sirius XM’s argument that the dispute play out before the three-judge Copyright Royalty Board whose members are variously well versed in copyright law and economics.
     The board has already heard weeks of testimony and accepted numerous exhibits regarding dispute between the two parties, according to the ruling.
     Judge Leon stayed the case pending a decision from the board.

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