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California Court Hands Record Companies Major Victory In SiriusXM "Pre-1972" Recordings Case

October 16, 2014

BACKGROUND:  A California state judge has handed down a major legal victory in the expanding campaign to secure compensation for pre-1972 recordings from services like SiriusXM and Pandora.  Last fall, a group of independent and major record labels sued SiriusXM in California state court for using songs recorded before 1972 -- including standards from the 40's and 50's, rock and roll from the 50's and 60's, and the Motown Sound -- without paying the artists and rights holders who brought those songs to life.  California Superior Court judge Mary Strobel has granted the plaintiffs’ motion for jury instruction, ruling that California law “must be interpreted to recognize . . . public performance rights in pre-1972 sound recordings.”  Below is a comment from RIAA CEO Cary Sherman:


“Two courts have now handed down landmark decisions which confirm what should be obvious – the musical giants of our past who recorded before 1972 deserve to be compensated when their music is used by companies like SiriusXM.  It’s increasingly clear that SiriusXM, Pandora and other digital music firms who refuse to pay legacy artists and rights holders are on the wrong side of history and the law.  It’s time for that to change.”


A copy of the judge’s ruling is available upon request. 


The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is the trade organization that supports and promotes the creative and financial vitality of the major music companies. Its members comprise the most vibrant record industry in the world. RIAA® members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legitimate recorded music produced and sold in the United States.

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Jonathan Lamy
Cara Duckworth
Liz Kennedy