That’s according to the New York Post, which is now reporting that Pandora has agreed to settle over the contentious issue of pre-1972 recordings. Specifically, the legal question has been whether companies like Pandora are responsible for paying performance royalties for recordings released prior to that date.
The $90 million payout would pale in comparison to a recently-ordered $210 million for Sirius XM Radio, though Pandora’s settlement apparently only covers 2015 and 2016. The suggests a far larger liability ahead for Pandora, based on the Post’s reported estimate.
The Sirius royalty decision followed years of litigation by recording labels, with oldies band The Turtles (think “Happy Together”) ultimately spearheading the victory. Indeed, on the momentum of the monstrous Sirius decision, the Turtles soon started litigating against Pandora.
Besides being a year during the Nixon administration, 1972 marks the all-important date when recording copyright was officially federalized by US Congress. That raises complicated questions over whether broadcast performance rights apply to a patchwork of state-based copyrights, with companies like Sirius and Pandora predictably arguing that they don’t.