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Pandora wins court fight aimed at blocking music from internet radio services

Pandora wins court fight aimed at blocking music from internet radio services


Judge says that ASCAP must license total repertoire to Pandora

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Justice blind court statue inline (STOCK)
Justice blind court statue inline (STOCK)

Pandora has won a significant court victory over ASCAP, one of the top performance-rights organizations (PROs), which had attempted to prevent the webcaster from accessing some of the music in its catalog, according to Reuters.

The case is one of the fronts in the music industry's war against Pandora. The top music publishers don't want Pandora accessing songs through consent decrees agreed upon by the publishers and Congress. Music labels and publishers would prefer that Pandora sit down and negotiate royalties directly with them. That would likely mean, however, that Pandora would end up paying more. Much of the music industry believes Pandora inadequately compensates artists for their music.

"All means all."

This case started when some of the top publishers — including Universal Music Group, EMI, Sony / ATV and BMG — tried to block Pandora from accessing their music by removing ASCAP's oversight of "new media rights." ASCAP and BMI collect royalties generated by the public performances of songs, and then distribute the funds to creators. UMG and the other publishers hoped to prevent Pandora from obtaining blanket licenses for their songs and instead negotiate directly with them. Pandora insisted that ASCAP isn't allow to exclude specific types of rights from those seeking licenses. Federal District Judge Denise Cote agreed.

"All means all," Cote wrote in her decision. "Pandora’s right to perform the compositions in the ASCAP repertory extends to all of ASCAP’s repertory and ASCAP may not narrow that right."

Some of the direct licensing deals cut out artists Still left to decide is what percentage of advertising Pandora must pay to license ASCAP's music. The judge set a court date of December 4th. Meanwhile, Kristelia Garcia, a visiting fellow at Yale Law School, writes in Digital Music News that some of the direct licensing deals the labels are entering into outside the PROs cut out artists. Garcia noted that in one deal SoundExchange was elbowed out of the equation. SoundExchange collects recorded music royalties and then sends a portion to the labels and another directly to songwriters, musicians, and other performers. In the direct deals, all the money goes straight to the labels, and then the performers must collect from them. Needless to say, Garcia doesn't think that benefits artists.