Judge Remains Unconvinced By Satellite Radio Ga-Ga

Jan 19th, 2007 // 2 Comments

snoop_dog_xm-satellite.jpgThis just in, from the exciting, traffic-spurring world of ongoing digital-music lawsuits:

NEW YORK – A lawsuit in which record companies allege XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. is cheating them by letting consumers store songs can proceed toward trial, a judge ruled Friday after finding merit to the companies’ claims.

U.S. District Judge Deborah A. Batts made the finding in a case brought by Atlantic Recording Corp., BMG Music, Capitol Records Inc. and other music distribution companies against the licensed satellite radio broadcaster. In a lawsuit last year, the companies said XM directly infringes on their exclusive distribution rights by letting consumers record songs onto special receivers marketed as “XM + MP3″ players.

XM claimed that their users are keeping the music for private use, and are therefore protected by the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992; the judge gave them the old hells no on that. We’re guessing XM will want to get this matter resolved as quickly as possible, especially with the potential Sirius merger. Nobody wants to hook up with a company carrying an STD (Seriously Troubling Development).

Judge: XM might be cheating music firms [AP]

  1. beta.rogan

    They had the time, they gave too much power, this could be their final hour.

  2. Deadly Tango

    The AP piece doesn’t really tell the whole story. XM hasn’t lost anything except a chance to pay less in legal fees. The judge is saying that the case can continue, rather than being short-circuited on a motion to dismiss or motion for summary judgment.

    To grant a motion to dismiss, the judge has to find that the plaintiff’s complaint fails to state a legitimate claim, after giving the entire benefit of the doubt to the plaintiff. The judge isn’t saying that the plaintiff will win. But if the complaint holds up after more evidence is presented, there’s a real harm where the judge can offer a legal remedy.

    Summary judgment turns on whether there are “disputed issues of material fact.” If both sides agree on the facts presented in the complaint, then the judge can simply apply the relevant law to those facts. If the facts are in dispute, then the case goes on to a trial.

    Without seeing the judge’s opinion or the original complaint, I’m not convinced that the AHRA claim is a complete loser. It’s definitely the easy way out for XM instead of trying various “fair use” copyright arguments.

    DISCLOSURE: I’m an attorney and an XM subscriber — but I have no direct interest in this matter since I don’t represent either side and I don’t own an XM Inno (the device at issue in this case).

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