Pandora Latest Company to Join Lobbying Game, Forms PAC


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Despite (sort of) winning a court case in a New York District Court earlier this year over royalty payments, Internet radio service Pandora sees the regulatory Furies hastening ever closer. The Hill reports that the music streaming giant is seeking some political clout of its own to wield in the copyright court of intrigue:

Online radio service Pandora has started a political action committee to send money to political campaigns and candidates. The company started its PAC late last month, it revealed in new Federal Election Commission filings, days after a court ruling seemed to spell trouble for the service.

The ruling in question comes from California, where a court found that Sirius XM radio has to pay royalties to musicians for songs recorded before 1972:

Currently, performers of songs recorded before 1972 are not covered under a federal copyright law, and musicians do not receive royalties when their songs are played. A series of state laws covers songs before 1972.

Unsurprisingly, California is one of those states, making it a magical land with tangerine trees and marmalade skies for litigious hippie-era musicians. The Turtles, who won the suit against Sirius, have now set their sights on Pandora, reports The Wall Street Journal:

The Turtles' founding members sued the internet-radio giant on Thursday in Los Angeles federal court alleging that Pandora violated California law by misappropriating and reproducing its songs without permission, seeking damages of at least $25 million.

Bad music makes for bad behavior, it seems.

Pandora is also feeling legislative pressure. Reps. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and George Holding (R-N.C.) are pushing the RESPECT Act, which would do away with the current patchwork of state copyright laws by extending federal protections to pre-1972 music. And that's just one of several bills that could drastically affect the landscape of the music streaming industry.

It should come as no surprise that Pandora is looking to political solutions for political problems: In America's regulatory environment, lobbying has become a very lucrative investment indeed. Sadly, Pandora's move is par for the course in corporatist America, where entrenched players spend scarce resources tweaking the regulatory apparatus instead of adapting to consumer demand.