, a $12 monthly satellite radio subscription service in the US, is to be sued by a host of music labels for offering a device that can record songs and allow a user to play them back in an order of their choosing.
The music labels, which include Sony BMG music entertainment, Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group, are angry about XM’s Inno radio product and are now demanding as much as $150,000 dollars for each song recorded by a customer.
Mitch Bainwol, of the RIAA, launched a scathing criticism of the XM product:
"XM wants to offer listeners what is essentially a free version of iTunes without paying the music companies for the right to sell their songs. It's a great deal for XM because it drives subscriptions. But it's fundamentally unfair to songwriters and labels and threatens to puncture the integrity of the digital music marketplace right as it is growing."
David Butler, for XM, launched a compelling counter.
"The music labels are trying to stifle innovation, limit consumer choice, and roll back consumers' rights to record content for their personal use."
The use of the XM device is actually explicitly legal
under the provisions of the Audio Home Recording Act which the record labels themselves approved back in the 90s.
The Consumer Electronics Association also has a very well-written statement
which outlines the basic problems with the RIAA's case.
To put this in context imagine your old cassette recorder, now imagine the music companies demanding money from the cassette makers for every song every recorded onto the tapes. Sounds ridiculous? Despite this apparently XM has offered to pay $18 per Inno device to the music industry, an offer that was supposedly rejected due to the industries desire to control the features on the device.
Perhaps this is a knee jerk reaction from the corporations who are still recovering from the loss of revenue they suffered with the explosion of MP3’s. With the ever increasing popularity of internet radio
and the ease at which home users can record music onto their computers it would appear that the music industry is fighting a losing battle.
Do you think the music industry is justified in suing XM? Let us know in the forums.