Satellite Pirates

In the article, “Pre-1972 copyright ruling goes in favor of music community, but does it set any precedent?” found on Complete Music Update, Chris Cooke discussed the recent copyright lawsuit between the 1960s band The Turtles and Sirius XM Radio.  It states that current law mandates that all music before 1972 is subject to copyright law and therefore royalties have to be paid to use it.  Sirius XM had been sneaking around this law, since satellite and online radio is not explicitly stated in the law.  However, California judges ruled that they are not exempt from paying the band royalties.  This means that Sirius XM, and other satellite and online radio stations, will have to adhere to paying royalties for music made before 1972–at least in California.  There are also several other cases in other states involving the same issue.

This has an impact on both the radio industry and the music industry.  The radio industry is faced with an enormous loss of money if this ruling applies to all states, as they will have to pay millions of dollars every year to play older music.  Not only would these stations have to pay royalties for playing the music from now on, they would also have to pay retrospective royalties, meaning they would be faced with an estimate of how much it would have cost to play their music up to this point in time. It could possibly mean the end of smaller satellite radio stations as a whole, who could not face the financial impact of paying these royalties.  The music industry benefits greatly, as they will receive the money that the radio stations are paying.  They could also use this ruling to their advantage in future cases, as satellite radio is no longer exempt from copyright laws.


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