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RIAA says in copyright suit that Sirius XM doesn't pay for classic hits

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The top record companies are again warring with a digital radio service, only this time it's not Pandora. The major labels, along with some indies, filed a copyright complaint in California against Sirius XM for the alleged unauthorized use of music tracks recorded prior to 1972.

The Recording Industry Association of America, the trade group representing the three largest record companies, claimed in a press release that Sirius doesn't compensate such iconic music acts as The Four Tops, Judy Collins, Dionne Warwick and Eric Burdon for any of the songs they recorded before 1972. The RIAA says that while federal copyright law only protects songs made after 1972, California state law recognizes the copyrights of songs made before that year. A Sirius spokesperson did not respond to interview requests.

"They're using our music to attract subscribers." "The company's self-serving decision," the RIAA said in a statement, "means that it pays a band like the Four Tops when it uses the 1973 hit, 'Ain't No Woman (Like the One I Got)' but not when it broadcasts the group's iconic songs from the 60's like 'Baby I Need Your Loving,' and 'Sugar Pie Honey Bunch.'"

The music labels have recently found themselves at odds with some of their most important partners, especially those in radio. For the past year, the RIAA has lobbied against federal legislation backed by Pandora that would lower the amount web radio stations pay to play songs. This time, the RIAA has enlisted the help of some well-known artists. Included in the RIAA's release are comments from some of those who claim they're being ripped off.

"Older artists find it harder to earn a living. How long can we be out there on the road?" "Everybody knows that the music industry has been going through lots of big changes," wrote Eric Burdon, the British rocker best known as the frontman for The Animals and War. "But it's always been true that older artists find it harder to earn a living. How long can we be out there on the road? How long can a body suffer the trials of constant travel? SiriusXM’s treatment of elder artists such as myself is totally unfair. They're using our music to attract subscribers."