XM settles with last major label


XM Satellite Radio announced a settlement with EMI, the last of the four major record labels which had sued over XM’s Inno receiver with recording features. The remaining plaintiffs are music publishers and a few indie labels.

When Panasonic introduced the Inno two years ago, the record labels sued XM, charging that because the satellite radio receiver had digital recording ability it violated their music copyrights (5/17/06 RBR #97). The labels and music publishers sought $150 for each song copied onto an Inno from an XM broadcast. Needless to say, the settlements haven’t seen money like that change hands, since XM didn’t have to report the terms to the SEC as a material event.

XM previously settled with Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and Sony BMG, so EMI was the last major label it had to deal with. An XM spokesman told RBR/TVBR that the company is talking with the music publishers and a handful of independent record labels who are the remaining plaintiffs.

RBR/TVBR observation: We may have had lots of disagreements with the satellite radio companies over the years, but this is one case where we took XM’s side and warned AM and FM broadcasters that they face the same threat from the greedy record labels. The labels have latched onto the idea that “digital changes everything” – which is bogus – and have tried every which way in the courts and on Capitol Hill to use digital broadcasting as an excuse to pick the pockets of broadcasters. That’s true of satellite radio, online radio and HD Radio.