Record labels prepare to sue Pandora for violating copyrights

By Amy Michura,

Sony, Warner Music and a number of other major record labels are preparing to sue the internet radio service Pandora for copyright infringement. The labels are accusing Pandora of playing artists such as Buddy Holly, the Rolling Stones and other pre-1972 artists without licenses.

According to Time, the dispute is that the pre-1972 songs that are on Pandora aren’t covered by federal copyright protection but by common law in states like New York. Therefore, Pandora should have to seek permission to use the songs under state law.

The New York Times reported that a case was filed in New York on Thursday.

“This case presents a classic attempt by Pandora to reap where it has not sown,” the labels say in the suit, according to The New York Times. “Pandora appropriates plaintiffs’ valuable and unique property, violates New York law and engages in common law copyright infringement and misappropriation and unfair competition.”

Buddy Holly’s widow, María Elena Holly, spoke out in a statement released by the Recording Industry Association of America about the suit.

“Just because Buddy and the other ‘50s musicians recorded songs before 1972 doesn’t mean their songs have no value," Holly said. "These companies’ failure to pay the rock ’n’ roll pioneers is an injustice and it needs to change.”

According to The New York Times, the suit includes a long list of songs from the 1940s to the early ‘70s, including songs from the Beatles, Hank Williams, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan and James Brown.

A representative from Pandora told The New York Times that the company is confident in its legal position and that Pandora is looking forward to reach a resolution.



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