Pandora asserts constitutional freedoms in ongoing pre-1972 legal saga

constitutionPandora has entered the ring to defend itself against the lawsuit filed by the Turtles, which seeks royalty payments for songs dating to before 1972. The online radio company filed a response in California, claiming that the lawsuit infringes its freedom of speech and asking that the court block the band’s demands.

Pandora’s latest action falls under the umbrella of Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation, or SLAPP, laws. These are designed to challenge a legal action that threatens freedom of speech. Or, as Pandora explained in its own filing, “The point of the anti-SLAPP statute is that you have a right not to be dragged through the courts because you exercised your constitutional rights.”

The Turtles have largely been focusing their legal efforts on Sirius XM (and often succeeding), but members of the band have filed a class action against Pandora as well.

“This is a procedural step in our existing case,” Dave Grimaldi, Pandora’s director of public affairs, told RAIN News. “It doesn’t doesn’t change our legal position or the core elements of our legal argument.” That argument is that since the U.S. laws did not recognize copyright over those master recordings prior to 1972, it should be exempt from paying master recording performance royalties on that music.

“Pandora would be open to supporting the full federalization of Pre-72 sound recordings under a technology-neutral approach that affords libraries, music services and consumers the same rights and responsibilities that are enjoyed with respect to all other sound recordings,” Grimaldi said.

Anna Washenko