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The Music Royalty Collectors Target Sirius XM

SiriusXM Lynx Portable Radio
SiriusXM Lynx Portable RadioPhotograph by PRNewsFoto/Sirius XM Radio via AP Images

Satellite radio provider Sirius XM is being accused of playing music without paying for it. This week, SoundExchange, the nonprofit that collects digital performance royalties and distributes them to artists, sued Sirius in federal court, demanding $50 million to $100 million in back payments on songs played across its stations between 2007 and 2012. The most jarring allegation is that Sirius—home to hundreds of 24-hour radio channels, some with titles like ’60s on 6 and Siriusly Sinatra—hasn’t paid for any song recorded before 1972.

“This has been an ongoing battle with Sirius for several years,” says Michael DeSanctis, a copyright lawyer representing SoundExchange in the lawsuit. “Artists are being severely underpaid. We hope to determine the exact amount that Sirius owes during the discovery process, but it may be as much as $100 million. This is serious. Pardon the pun.”