We’re sure that even before Pandora set up shop, they had approached music labels and publishers in order to secure the rights to stream the songs performed by a variety of artists and bands. If they didn’t we’d have expected to see the company hit with a lawsuit during its first day of operations.
However it seems that there might be some copyright areas that Pandora might have neglected, or thought that they were in the clear, and this is with regards to songs recorded before 1972. In a recent lawsuit, the major record labels, Sony, Warner, and Universal have jointly sued Pandora over alleged copyright infringement.
They claim that songs that are recorded before 1972 are subject to copyright as well and that Pandora needs to pay them in order to have the right to stream it. Some of the examples given includes James Brown’s “I Got You” and the Beatle’s “Hey Jude” which are covered by state law, even if they are protected under federal copyright law.
The labels go on to claim that if Pandora does not pay them their dues, they could stand to lose millions. According to the labels in a statement released to The New York Times, “This case presents a classic attempt by Pandora to reap where it has not sown. Pandora appropriates plaintiffs’ valuable and unique property, violates New York law, and engages in common law copyright infringement and misappropriation and unfair competition.”
Pandora themselves do not appear to be too worried as they believe that they are confident in their legal position and hope to resolve this matter quickly.