Pandora doesn't need to pay higher royalties to songwriters, court rules

Pandora has been fighting tooth and nail against potential songwriting royalty increases, and it appears that this tenacity is largely paying off. A court has ruled that the streaming radio service should pay the same 1.85 percent royalty rate that it has paid for years, resisting both Pandora’s call for 1.7 percent and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers’ demand for 3 percent. Details of the ruling are under a court seal, so the motivations behind the decision aren’t yet clear.

A dramatic lawsuit that pitted one of the biggest digital music services against songwriters and music publishers ended in anticlimactic fashion Friday, as a federal judge issued a decision under seal that essentially preserved the status quo. After a long fight over what Pandora Media should pay the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote ruled that the Internet radio giant should pay the society the same through 2015 that it has for years, ASCAP said in a statement. Pandora had argued that it should pay the performing rights organization less than the current 1.85% of revenue–it asked to pay closer to 1.7%–since that is the rate paid by terrestrial broadcasters, which Pandora considers its closest competitors.

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