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Merlin settles with Sirius

By | Published on Thursday 5 April 2012


Merlin, the digital rights agency for the bigger independent labels, has announced it has settled a long running legal dispute with US satellite radio company Sirius XM over a service run by Sirius (prior to its merger with XM in 2008) which let users store back ups of the radio firm’s programmes for later listening.

The record labels argued that the so called Stiletto device distributed by Sirius was not covered by the radio service’s broadcast licences, because it was basically offering an on-demand music platform. XM also had a similar product called Inno. The majors settled with the radio firms between 2007 and 2008, but Merlin pursued its own class action litigation on behalf of both its members and the indie label community at large. The XM Inno dispute was settled last year, and an agreement was reached regards Stiletto earlier this week.

Confirming the settlements, Merlin chief Charles Caldas told CMU: “At a time where market consolidation is swallowing up more independent interests, delivering even more power into the hands of the largest major labels, adding this settlement to the growing list of litigation successes achieved by Merlin on behalf of its members is gratifying. Actions such as this further underline the enormous value that Merlin provides to the ever growing list of independents that have chosen to enhance their business by joining our organisation”.

The settlement with Merlin follows news last month that Sirius had filed a complaint with the US courts about both SoundExchange, the digital royalties body that licences sound recordings to online and satellite radio services in America, and the American Association Of Independent Music. The satellite broadcaster says it would rather deal directly with the record companies when negotiating licences, but that the two bodies were “impeding” those efforts and that that, in their view, contravenes anti-trust rules in the US.