Pandora Media Inc (NYSE:P) won a lawsuit against some of the members of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) after the Federal Court in the Southern District of New York ruled that it has the right to play all the compositions in the organization’s library.
In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote emphasized that the existing antitrust consent decree requires ASCAP to grant license for all its works to Pandora Media Inc (NYSE:P) from 2011 to 2015, despite the attempt of some of its members to remove certain licenses for new media.
Pandora sought the interpretation of the court
In July, Pandora Media Inc (NYSE:P) sought the interpretation of the court regarding the consent decree after some music publishers members, including EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, and Universal Music Publishing Group, tried to remove certain licensing rights for new media from ASCAP to be able to directly negotiate with Internet radio service providers.
Judge Cote rejected the argument of ASCAP that Pandora Media Inc (NYSE:P) knew that its license might be reduced. ASCAP explained that its repertoire under the consent decree represents only rights to music granted to its members in a particular period.
According to Judge Cote, the argument of Pandora Media Inc (NYSE:P) is correct that ASCAP repertory is a defined term articulated in terms of works or compositions as opposed to in terms of a gerrymandered parcel of rights.
In a statement, Chris Harrison, assistant general counsel for Pandora Media Inc (NYSE:P) said, "We welcome the court's decision. We hope this will put an end to the attempt by certain ASCAP-member publishers to unfairly and selectively withhold their catalogs from Pandora.”
Harrison added, “Pandora continues to firmly believe that musicians must be fairly compensated for their work. We are committed to a responsible, sustainable and equitable royalty structure that benefits and grows the entire industry and does not discriminate against new technologies."
On the other hand, John Lofrumento, CEO of ASCAP said, “The court’s decision to grant summary judgment in this matter has no impact on our fundamental position in this case that songwriters deserve fair pay for their hard work, an issue that the court has not yet decided.”
The court scheduled a trial to determine the true value of the performance rights of songwriters and composers on December 4. Lofrumento said that the competitors of Pandora Media Inc (NYSE:P) does not litigate, but negotiate the true value of the performance rights with the creators of music.