Sirius XM, Music Group Challenge Copyright Royalty Ruling


• Court had asked Copyright Royalty Board to interpret regulations for digital broadcasts

• Board’s ruling favored Sirius XM on some issues, copyright collective on others


Sirius XM Radio Inc. and a music royalty-collecting organization both want a federal appeals court to strike down a copyright tribunal’s ruling on royalties for broadcasting music over the satellite radio service.

Sirius XM, a satellite radio service, and SoundExchange Inc., the royalty collective, asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in separate Dec. 29 petitions to review the board’s decision.

The Copyright Royalty Board ruled in September that Sirius XM had correctly discounted music royalty payments to SoundExchange for pre-1972 recordings. However, the board said that the satellite radio service shouldn’t have taken a discount for its Premier package, which includes a greater number of talk shows.

Recordings made before 1972 aren’t protected by federal copyright law, so only composers or songwriters—not performing artists—are compensated when oldies are played by services such as Sirius XM. SoundExchange collects royalties for recording artists from digital services, and Sirius XM reduced its royalty payments to account for its use of pre-1972 records.

The cases are Sirius XM Radio Inc. v. Copyright Royalty Board, D.C. Cir., No. 17-1278, petition for review12/29/17 and SoundExchange, Inc. v. Copyright Royalty Judges, D.C. Cir., No. 17-1277, petition filed12/29/17

To contact the reporter on this story: Anandashankar Mazumdar in Washington at amazumdar@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mike Wilczek at mwilczek@bloomberglaw.com