Copyright Law And The Assault On Innovation IIby Doug Mataconis
A Federal Judge in New York has ruled that a lawsuit by the music industy against XM Satellite Radio over a new XM radio that allows consumers to record songs played on XM onto an MP3 player can proceed forward:
A lawsuit in which record companies accuse XM Satellite Radio Holdings of cheating them by letting consumers store songs can proceed toward trial, a judge ruled yesterday after finding merit to the companies’ claims.
Judge Deborah A. Batts of United States District Court in New York made the finding in a case brought by the Atlantic Recording Corporation, BMG Music, Capitol Records and other music distribution companies against XM Satellite, the satellite radio broadcaster.
In a lawsuit last year, the companies said XM infringed on their exclusive distribution rights by letting consumers record songs onto special receivers marketed as “XM + MP3” players.
XM argued that it was protected from infringement lawsuits by the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992, which permits individuals to record music off the radio for private use. The judge said she did not believe that the company was protected in this instance by the act.
While this is an early stage of the proceedings, this doesn’t strike me as very good news, or anyone else who believes in freedom to innovate. Especially when you consider remarks like this:
The judge said XM operated like traditional radio broadcast providers who cannot offer an interactive service, publish programming schedules before broadcast and play songs from an artist more often than specified within a three-hour period. But by broadcasting and storing copyrighted music for later recording by the consumer, the judge said XM was both a broadcaster and a distributor, but was paying only to be a broadcaster.
“The record companies sufficiently allege that serving as a music distributor to XM + MP3 users gives XM added commercial benefit as a satellite radio broadcaster,” Judge Batts said.
And what’s so wrong with that ?