Talks fall apart in VerStandig v. SoundExchange legal case over geo-fencing

gavel canvasAfter a flurry of letter-writing, efforts to reach a negotiation between SoundExchange and VerStandig Broadcasting have broken down. On Oct. 24, Judge Michael Urbanski gave the parties a month to resolve the issue on their own before the court stepped in to make a ruling.

The case centered on whether VerStandig could use geo-fencing technology to restrict its streaming to within 150 miles of its transmitter, which the broadcaster claimed would exempt it from SoundExchange’s royalty collection. SoundExchange argued that the exemption was only applicable to satellite and cable systems and not to web-based streaming.

During the past weeks, SoundExchange’s attorney filed a letter claiming that VerStandig’s actions have been unfair and based on a large number of hypotheticals. Meanwhile, VerStandig’s attorney David Butler wrote with concerns that SoundExchange would sue the broadcaster for failing to pay streaming fees since the company refused to sign a promise not to. He added that SoundExchange was unwilling to engage in further discussions and called for a court ruling.

Sources have not yet determined when Urbanski will weigh in with a decision on the geo-fencing case now that his deadline for VerStandig and SoundExchange has passed.

Anna Washenko