Satellite Radio Companies Face Suit Upon Releasing Devices that Copy Music
XM & Sirius, the satellite radio companies, are reportedly to release new devices that allow the copying of the songs coming through the devices. To no one's surprise the RIAA is threatening suit for copyright infringement, presumably under the "inducement" to infringe bits of the Grokster opinion. If a suit actually progresses through the court system it would be an interesting battle that could force the courts to determine a more clear vision of what the language on the Grokster opinion meant and will again push against the old Sony-Betamax "non-infringing uses" doctrine.
The courts will have to consider whether digital music via satellite radio is truly different than music that arrives via the regular radio. Both can be copied very easily, but only one sounds digital. Regular radio is obviously covered by the non-infringing uses doctrine, but is digital radio? Will the digital radio just be viewed as an internet device or as a broadcast device like a regular radio? Any determination will probably rely very much on the exact specifications of these devices, there would be questions such as -- do they allow the copied music to be moved off of the device and on to a computer or CD, etc. Here's a snippet from the article:
Slyck News -- RIAA Takes On XM Over Copyright Infringement
In late July, XM announced a partnership with Samsung to produce a portable device that allows users to record songs from satellite radio broadcasts and then catalog and save favored songs while deleting others.
Sirius later announced a similar device, called the S50. The device will be about the size of an iPod and released in October.
The music industry argues the recording capability — essentially Tivo for radio — is a clear copyright violation and could take revenue away from paid download music stores, such as iTunes. One executive argued the devices give users "permanent ownership of copyrighted material without paying for it."
XM has a deal with the paid service Napster, which allows user to click and buy songs they hear on satellite radio broadcasts. The deal was welcomed by the industry, yet raises the question, one music executive said, "Why would anyone use the Napster platform to buy it if XM is giving it away for free?"
Some record executives expect an ugly battle if XM and Sirius don't modify the devices.
"They can't do this without being sued," said another music executive involved in the discussions.
The rupture over the portable devices comes as the music industry is gearing up to demand higher licensing fees from the satellite radio industry once the current seven-year contract expires at the end of the year.