Pandora Media, Inc. v. Am. Soc'y of Composers, Authors, and Publrs.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Intellectual Property Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Copyright, statutory construction
  • Date Filed: 09-17-2013
  • Case #: Nos. 12 Civ. 8035(DLC), 41 Civ. 1395(DLC).
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: United States District Court, Southern District of New York
  • LexisNexis Citation: 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133133
  • Westlaw Citation: 2013 WL 5211927
  • Full Text Opinion

American Society of Composers was not allowed to deny a blanket license to compositions in their repertory despite third party copyright holders withdrawing rights.

(COTE J.) Pandora Media, Inc. ("Pandora") brought suit against the American Society of Comporsers, Authors and Publishers ("ASCAP") for denying Pandora a blanket license to use songs in their repertoire. ASCAP operated under an antitrust consent decree, which required ASCAP to grant any requesting entity a blanket license. In denying Pandora's request, ASCAP cited an announcement by independent music publishers of the publishers' intent to stop extending "new media" rights to ASCAP. (Pandora, an online music streaming service, is a type of "new media.") ASCAP argued that it could not grant the license to Pandora because due to the withdrawl of the indpendent publishers ASCAP lost rights to individual rights in their repertory. The court noted that the term “works” has its origin in copyright law, and it is clear from copyright case law that "works" means “compositions” in that context. Where contracting parties use terms and concepts that are firmly rooted in federal law, and where there are no explicit signals to the contrary, we can presume that the prevailing federal definition controls. Having determined that “works” means musical compositions, and that those musical compositions remain “in the ASCAP repertory” so long as ASCAP retains any licensing rights for them. As a result Pandora's motion for summary judgement was GRANTED.

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