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Pandora Has Legal Right to Access Music Catalogues
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Pandora music

Summary: A court ruling reemphasized that the federal regulation, consent decree, does not allow publishers to withdrawal partial rights from ASCAP in order to deny rights to some providers like Pandora.

A federal appeals court has said that Pandora, the Internet music provider, cannot be restricted by the music publishing companies of Universal, EMI, and Sony/ATV to the catalogues of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP).


ASCAP was setting different rates for different providers. The court set a rate of 1.85 percent on the public performance of songs in the catalog for Pandora and other Internet radio services. The court also ruled on the way music publishers can make deals with ASCAP to represent their songs. The publishers withdrew their rights from the catalog, forcing Pandora to negotiate with the publishers instead of just ASCAP. Pandora ended up paying higher royalty fees. The court ruled that the publishers doing this violated the federal regulations, known as the consent decree. A publisher is not allowed to pick and choose who gets access to their music once they release the rights. An individual copyright holder is still free to choose whether to license their work through ASCAP or refuse to license to whomever they choose.

The ASCAP is asking for changes to be made to the consent decree to allow for partial withdrawal of rights. ASCAP represents nearly half of the music composers and publishers in the U.S., giving them dominating power over the performance-rights market.


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