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SiriusXM Sued by Warner Music, Sony Music, Capitol Records Over Pre-1972 Recordings

The record labels seek an injunction and damages, claiming the satellite provider does not pay for their pre-1972 recordings

Hear that old vinyl record scratch? That’s SiriusXM being sued by some of the biggest names in the music business over their more-dated recordings.

Capitol Records, Sony Music Entertainment, UMG Records, Warner Music Group and ABKCO Music & Records filed a complaint in California Superior Court Wednesday, claiming that SiriusXM refuses to obtain licenses and pay for transmission of their pre-1972 recordings.

These earlier recordings include popular works by the Beatles, Beach Boys, Rolling Stones, among many others. The suit claims that SiriusXM publicly performs thousands of the plantiffs’ pre-72 recordings daily, to millions of subscribers.

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SiriusXM declined comment to TheWrap.

The plaintiffs seek an injunction on the use of their pre-72 recordings, financial restitution and damages. If successful, those oldies may no longer be goodies for SiriusXM.

“The conduct of SiriusXM presents the paradigmatic example of a commercial business that is based on, uses, and profits from the intellectual property created by and owned by others, without obtaining the right to do so, and without paying for it,” the complaint alleges.

The filing points out that SiriusXM does pay for post-1972 recordings. But with a number of stations that exclusively use the so-called “pre-72” recordings, including SiriusXM’s ’40s, ’50s and ’60s channels, the record companies demand restitution from the company that they say  “profits handsomely (in the tens of millions of dollars).”

Why 1972? That year, the United States Copyright Act was amended to add “sound recordings” to the list of protected works under federal copyright law. The suit was filed in California because in 1969, California courts had previously recognized the common law property rights, and in 1982, it amended its Civil Code to provide statutory protection for Pre-72 Recordings.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.