Here Are 1,400 Songs You Might Never Hear Again on Your Pandora Station

From the Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” to Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” songs recorded before 1972 are the subject of a new copyright lawsuit.

Simpler times: The Beatles perform in November 1963 in Los Angeles.
National Journal
Dustin Volz
April 21, 2014, 9:56 a.m.

Baby boomers wor­ried that the great mu­sic of their youth would be for­got­ten by their kids and their kids’ kids have a new reas­on to fret­fully twist and shout.

Last week, the mu­sic in­dustry sued Pan­dora Me­dia, claim­ing the pop­u­lar In­ter­net ra­dio ser­vice is un­fairly evad­ing pay­ing tens of mil­lions in roy­al­ties on hit tunes re­cor­ded be­fore Feb­ru­ary 1972. Thanks to an ob­scure quirk in the leg­al sys­tem, those pre-1972 oldies are ex­empt from fed­er­al copy­right pro­tec­tion, mean­ing Pan­dora and ser­vices like it don’t need to pay the com­puls­ory li­cens­ing fees re­quired for less-dated mu­sic.

But ma­jor la­bels con­tend that Pan­dora, by not first earn­ing per­mis­sion to play those songs, is vi­ol­at­ing state laws that more gen­er­ic­ally pro­tect in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­erty and should ap­ply to the clas­sic gems of yes­teryear. The la­bels, in­clud­ing Sony, Uni­ver­sal, and Warner Mu­sic, as well as AB­KCO, an in­de­pend­ent that owns many of the Rolling Stones’ biggest hits, have gone to great lengths to il­lus­trate that point.

A list (shown be­low) of more than 1,400 pop­u­lar songs are in­cluded in their law­suit as a “sample” of the pre-1972 songs Pan­dora is al­leged to stream to its users without pay­ing roy­alty fees.

Con­veni­ently, the list in­cludes a des­ig­na­tion next to sev­er­al songs that mark an in­clu­sion in Rolling Stone magazine’s rank­ing of the 500 greatest songs of all time. Un­sur­pris­ingly, a large num­ber of those hits dot the list: Aretha Frank­lin’s thun­der­ous “Re­spect” ( No. 5), Bill With­ers’ re­sur­gent “Ain’t No Sun­shine” (285), an end­less cas­cade of Beatles hits (“She Loves You” at 64, “Yes­ter­day” at 13, “Hey Jude” at 8), Van Mor­ris­on’s “Brown Eyed Girl” (110) and, of course, Bob Dylan’s zeit­geisty “Like A Rolling Stone” (No. 1).

“This case presents a clas­sic at­tempt by Pan­dora to reap where it has not sown,” the suit, filed in New York State Su­preme Court in Man­hat­tan, de­clares. The pre-1972 re­cord­ings, it adds, “con­sti­tute a sig­ni­fic­ant part of the Pan­dora ser­vice and its ap­peal.”

A Pan­dora rep­res­ent­at­ive could not provide pre­cise play num­bers, but said the pre-1972 cata­log rep­res­ents only “a small per­cent­age of over­all spins.” The com­pany said it is con­fid­ent in its leg­al au­thor­ity on the mat­ter.

The suit, which fol­lows on the heels of sim­il­ar com­plaints made last year against Siri­usXM Ra­dio in a Cali­for­nia court, rep­res­ents an ef­fort by the mu­sic in­dustry to cre­ate a new rev­en­ue stream, giv­en that the pop­ular­ity of Pan­dora has ex­ploded in re­cent years, and now tops 70 mil­lion reg­u­lar users.

But a rul­ing against Pan­dora could po­ten­tially have ser­i­ous rami­fic­a­tions on the level of ac­cess to pre-1972 songs, said Dav­id Sun­shine, an in­tel­lec­tu­al-prop­erty law­yer with Cozen O’Con­nor, a law firm based in Phil­adelphia. While com­puls­ory li­cens­ing fees Pan­dora and oth­ers pay on post-1972 works don’t re­quire ob­tain­ing per­mis­sion from the artist, that wouldn’t be true for pre-1972 songs pro­tec­ted un­der the “Wild West of state law,” Sun­shine ad­ded, though he noted such an out­come was prob­ably un­likely.

“The prob­lem that [re­cord la­bels] are go­ing to face is, folks haven’t been pay­ing these roy­al­ties for a long time,” Sun­shine said. “You can’t just wake up 40 years later and say, ‘You need to pay me.’ “

Whatever its chances, though, the mu­sic in­dusty will try its best to cash in on your “Mo­town” and “Clas­sic Rock” sta­tions.

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 4886) }}

What We're Following See More »
TAKING A LONG VIEW TO SOUTHERN STATES
In Dropout Speech, Santorum Endorses Rubio
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

As expected after earlier reports on Wednesday, Rick Santorum ended his presidential bid. But less expected: he threw his support to Marco Rubio. After noting he spoke with Rubio the day before for an hour, he said, “Someone who has a real understanding of the threat of ISIS, real understanding of the threat of fundamentalist Islam, and has experience, one of the things I wanted was someone who has experience in this area, and that’s why we decided to support Marco Rubio.” It doesn’t figure to help Rubio much in New Hampshire, but the Santorum nod could pay dividends down the road in southern states.

Source:
‘PITTING PEOPLE AGAINST EACH OTHER’
Rubio, Trump Question Obama’s Mosque Visit
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

President Obama’s decision to visit a mosque in Baltimore today was never going to be completely uncontroversial. And Donald Trump and Marco Rubio proved it. “Maybe he feels comfortable there,” Trump told interviewer Greta van Susteren on Fox News. “There are a lot of places he can go, and he chose a mosque.” And in New Hampshire, Rubio said of Obama, “Always pitting people against each other. Always. Look at today – he gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims.”

Source:
THE TIME IS NOW, TED
Cruz Must Max Out on Evangelical Support through Early March
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

For Ted Cruz, a strong showing in New Hampshire would be nice, but not necessary. That’s because evangelical voters only make up 21% of the Granite State’s population. “But from the February 20 South Carolina primary through March 15, there are nine states (South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Carolina) with an estimated white-Evangelical percentage of the GOP electorate over 60 percent, and another four (Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Missouri) that come in over 50 percent.” But after that, he better be in the catbird’s seat, because only four smaller states remain with evangelical voter majorities.

Source:
CHRISTIE, BUSH TRYING TO TAKE HIM DOWN
Rubio Now Winning the ‘Endorsement Primary’
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Since his strong third-place finish in Iowa, Marco Rubio has won endorsement by two sitting senators and two congressmen, putting him in the lead for the first time of FiveThirtyEight‘s Endorsement Tracker. “Some politicians had put early support behind Jeb Bush — he had led [their] list since August — but since January the only new endorsement he has received was from former presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham.” Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that fueled by resentment, “members of the Bush and Christie campaigns have communicated about their mutual desire to halt … Rubio’s rise in the polls.”

Source:
ARE YOU THE GATEKEEPER?
Sanders: Obama Is a Progressive
1 days ago
THE LATEST

“Do I think President Obama is a progressive? Yeah, I do,” said Bernie Sanders, in response to a direct question in tonight’s debate. “I think they’ve done a great job.” But Hillary Clinton wasn’t content to sit out the latest chapter in the great debate over the definition of progressivism. “In your definition, with you being the gatekeeper of progressivism, I don’t think anyone else fits that definition,” she told Sanders.

×