Sirius Is Sued Over Music Royalties for Pre-1972 Recordings

The entity that collects performance royalties from digital music services — and distributes them to performers and record labels — sued satellite-radio giant Sirius XM Radio Inc. for allegedly refusing to pay for recordings made prior to 1972.

The suit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, spotlights a quirk in copyright law: There is little explicit protection for so-called legacy artists, because sound recordings weren’t brought within the scope of federal copyright protection until 1972. Older recordings are protected under a patchwork of state laws.

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