Radio TiVo


Another day, another gang of content companies files suit against a useful innovation:

The recording industry accuses XM Satellite Radio of "massive wholesale infringement" because of a $400 iPod-like device that allows XM customers to record up to 50 hours of music and automatically parse recordings by song and artist. The "Inno" is sold under the slogan, "Hear it, click it, save it."

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in New York by the largest labels, seeks $150,000 in damages for every song copied by XM Satellite customers using the devices, which went on sale weeks ago. The company says it plays 160,000 different songs every month….

XM Satellite has compared its new device to a high-tech videocassette recorder, which consumers can legally use to record programs for their personal use. It also says songs stored on the device from its broadcasts can't be copied and can only be played for as long as a customer subscribes to its service.

The real issue: XM already pays the same performance license required of terrestrial radio stations, but "has balked at the recording industry's efforts to collect expensive distribution licenses similar to those required for Internet downloading services, such as Apple Inc.'s iTunes." America's other satellite radio service, Sirius, pays the extra fee. I assume it costs a bit less than $150K per song.

Gigi Sohn of Public Knowledge has more.