March 22, 2007 5:28 PM PDT

Music publishers accuse XM of copyright infringement

An association of music publishers late on Thursday filed a lawsuit that accuses XM Satellite Radio of refusing to stop "widespread infringement" of popular copyrighted songs.

In a complaint filed in New York federal court, the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) argues that the satellite radio operator's "XM + MP3" music service skirts copyright laws by allowing radio listeners to make permanent copies of on-air tracks through devices like the Pioneer Inno player without permission and without properly compensating songwriters.

The service "constitutes pervasive and willful copyright infringement to the overwhelming detriment of copyright holders, legitimate online music services and, ultimately, consumers," lead attorney Debra Wong Yang said in a statement.

The legal action by the music publishers arrives about two months after a federal judge ruled a similar legal challenge lodged by record labels could proceed. In that dispute, XM argued that its listeners are legally allowed to record music off the radio for personal use under the Home Recording Act of 1992.

Federal courts have upheld users' rights to record music from over-the-air radio for some purposes. The music industry argues that the "iPod-like" devices marketed by XM are closer to being music download services akin to Apple's iTunes Store, which falls under a different copyright licensing regime, and that they have been cheating musicians out of royalties.

NMPA President David Israelite characterized his organization's legal action as a "last resort" that followed months of discussions between the entities over compensation for music creators.

XM spokesman Chance Patterson dismissed the suit as "a negotiating tactic to gain an advantage in our ongoing business discussions."

"XM pays royalties to writers and composers who are also compensated by our device manufacturers," he said in an e-mailed statement. "We are confident that the lawsuit is without merit and that we will prevail."

The music publishers are seeking an injunction that would stop the allegedly infringing behavior. They are also requesting a maximum of $150,000 in damages for each work allegedly infringed by XM. The complaint lists more than 175 well-known songs--ranging from "Let it Be" to "Like A Prayer" to "That's the Way (I Like It)"--whose rights belong to a number of large and small music publishers. The group claims those tunes represent a "small fraction" of those being illegally distributed through the XM + MP3 service.

A controversial recording industry-backed bill in Congress would require satellite and Internet radio services to restrict the ability of their listeners to record and replay individual songs. The so-called Perform Act, reintroduced this year by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has been marketed as a way to ensure that those services pay "fair market value" for the use of copyright music, but critics, including consumer groups and the electronics industry, argue that the proposal would unduly limit listeners' home-recording rights.

The suit could pose an additional hurdle as XM seeks approval of an estimated $13 billion union with Sirius Satellite Radio. During congressional hearings on the subject in recent weeks, some politicians questioned how the merged entity would reconcile reportedly different approaches to copyright matters.

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15 comments

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Plus RIAA Suit?
Isn't the RIAA also suing XM, over the same issue?
Posted by john55440 (1020 comments )
Reply Link Flag
If Something Exists, RIAA Sues it
Instead of "I think, therefore I am", it's "You are, therefore the RIAA sues you." What I don't get is the fact that the RIAA can pay hugely exorbitant legal fees and still somehow come up with the money to file thousands of lawsuits. Someone tell me that's not rent-seeking behavior.
Posted by CNerd2025 (98 comments )
Link Flag
Neither Anarchy nor Aristocracy
Something has got to give in this endless copyright vs. "consumer" debate. The old notion of copyright can't apply in the 21st century because "copyright infringement" basically costs nothing and so anyone can easily be accused of it. On the other hand, no legal protection opens up the free-rider problem, whereby most people receive music on the backs of a few. On the other hand, some of the best artists, authors, and musicians in the earliest days of this republic worked without the benefits of copyright protection. Their works may have improved as a result. The fact that such a small group of those in Hollywood are making so much money demonstrates that the current system is a form of rent-seeking.
Posted by CNerd2025 (98 comments )
Reply Link Flag
audio out to audio in.......
wow, last time i checked i can hook up any device to a tape deck
and record it. And that is if I want poor quailty.

Give me a break. Every tv station, media outlook and live show
should have the same lawsuit on them.
Posted by djnightraven (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
crap
These type of lawsuits against "radio" are pure crap.

1. Such copying is allowed by law. The "Audio Home Recording Act 1992 allows for free copying from radio for personal use. There is no designation to terrestrial or atmospheric transmissions of "radio"

2. The music industry gets 4% of all recordable CD/DVD media made.

3. The music industry gets 3% on all devices capable of digital recording to #2 media type.

4.The industry threatened sat radio industry with lawsuits until they agreed to pay 17% on devices made to listen and copy from sat radio broadcasts. This extortion is outrageous considering the AHRA1992 limits the royalty payments to no more than 12% per device. Every burnable CD/DVD disk manufactured, no matter the intended use and every CD/DVD device capable of recording, no matter its intended use, pad the music industries coffers.

5. The music industry is only too happy to keep collecting this AHRA1992 cash cow money yet at the same time continue to deny the other rights afforded the public under it[AHRA1992].

WHERE ARE OUR LEGISLATORS???

oh yea, they cant hear us cause their ears are covered by the music industries butt-cheeks.
Posted by R Me (196 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Another alternative
I listen to Live365 when I want music, but more and more I just
enjoy listening to the natural sounds around me, or just the quiet
that I'm lucky to have all around me most of the time. Hopefully,
nobody will record that kind of thing and then sue me for listening
to a facsimile of it. Oh, wait- I guess you can get recordings of
soothing environmental backgrounds. Maybe I've been infringing a
copyright somehow. So sue me!
Posted by billmosby (536 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Old News
This is ridiculous. I have a twenty year old "stereo" with a built in tape recorder and no one ever complained about that.
Posted by weavercs (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Re: Old News
I feel the same way.

Yet have you ever noticed that at the same time, the music publishers have no problem charging you again and again for the exact same "intellectual property"? They do it everytime a new media technology arrives.

Think about it. Did you really have a choice when 8-tracks went out to tape, and then to CD?

Not much of one. That's for sure.

But you sure don't see the record companies offering you a fair trade in value for the old media you already paid for.

They're already getting paid multiple times for the same intellectual property and still, they're not happy.

I'm all for seeing artists and record companies get paid for their work - no question. But not again, and again, and again, and again....

Charles R. Whealton
Charles Whealton @ pleasedontspam.com
Posted by chuck_whealton (521 comments )
Link Flag
Old News
This is ridiculous. I have a twenty year old "stereo" with a built in tape recorder and no one ever complained about that.
Posted by weavercs (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
To everyone in the music industry....
....Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

*snif*snif*

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
Posted by TheShane (55 comments )
Reply Link Flag
To everyone in the music industry....
....Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

*snif*snif*

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
Posted by TheShane (55 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This is So Old
So I guess I have to pay loyalty fees to those "artists" every single time I listen to their songs. How about they pay me to listen to their crap?
Posted by Jess McLean (61 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I Agree!!!!!!!
Ever since you could hook a microphone to a tape player, people have been recording songs off the radio.

Tell ya what, let's do this. The next time a song comes on the radio we don't like, let's sue the artist for wasting our time having to listen to their C**p.
Posted by Razorxx (2 comments )
Link Flag
XM copyright infringement
The RIAA are crazy. Recording has been going on every since people have been able to hook up a taperecorder. All you have to do is run an out from your PC and record. Also there are numerous software titles that will record this product from your PC.
Posted by rahl46 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Fair Market Value
That's a fair concept. Pun intended. The catch is, I'm only willing to pay once. Plus I'm willing to pay more for what I like (CD's) and less for what I don't (all the other crap they play on radio). If I have to pay for it all. Any one song is virtually worthless because my budget doesn't change just because "The potential" exists for me to record something.

My two cents for songs that are now worth a lot less than 2 cents.
Posted by Renegade Knight (13748 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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