US District Judge Philip Gutierrez granted a motion for a class action lawsuit over SiriusXM’s performance of pre-1972 sound recordings. The lawsuit will cover anyone who owns a pre-1972 sound recording that’s been played on the satellite radio service after August 21, 2009. According to an article in The Hollywood Reporter, the company reported more than $4 billion in revenue in 2014, with about 10% to 15% attributed to pre-1972 recordings.
SiriusXM tried to assert that because there isn’t any federal registration scheme governing pre-1972 recordings, it is hard to determine who owns what. While the plaintiffs agreed there is a need for a music licensing service to identify owners of the recordings, they identified SoundExchange, Evan M. Greenspan, Inc., and Music Reports, Inc. as entities with databases that could assist.
Gutierrez wrote: “class members can reliably identify themselves because SiriusXM has a record of the individual pre-1972 recordings that it has performed since August 21, 2009,” that “owners of the listed recordings can easily self-identify,” and “that challenges by Sirius XM will be rare because Sirius XM itself does not own recording rights or track pre-1972 recording ownership rights.”