Suit identical to past claims made by labels

Music publishers are taking a swing at embattled XM Satellite Radio, filing an infringement suit against the satcaster that is almost identical to one filed last year by the major record labels.

Both suits allege that XM’s XM+MP3 service — involving MP3s capable of recording songs received from XM transmitters — violates copyright laws against reproducing and distributing protected content without a license.

XM is fighting the Recording Industry Assn. of America’s suit and appears ready to do the same with the new suit, filed late last week by the National Music Publishers Assn.

The NMPA claims that the devices’ ability to capture and record digital transmissions constitute the building of a private music library without paying for it. NMPA is suing to the tune of $150,000 per song infringed upon.

XM has argued that the devices are legal because songs recorded on them cannot be transferred to any other device or platform, and the songs are deleted from memory if a subscriber cancels his subscription.

NMPA’s suit “is a negotiating tactic to gain an advantage in our ongoing business discussions,” the satcaster said in a statement. “XM pays royalties to writers and composers, who are also compensated by our device manufacturers.”

The suit could complicate XM’s proposed merger with Sirius Satellite Radio, which terrestrial broadcasters and some consumer groups oppose. Sirius entered into an agreement with the labels and publishers last year regarding similar recording devices that Sirius sold to subscribers.

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