Yahoo need not pay webcast royalties, rules court

New York – Sony has lost its copyright case against Yahoo, with a court ruling that Yahoo’s Launchcast internet radio service shouldn’t have to pay royalties for the songs it plays.

Yahoo will only be liable to pay licensing fees to SoundExchange, the organization that collects royalties for musicians.

The case dates back to 2001, with a ruling in Yahoo’s favour in 2007, but Sony appealed.

The appeal court judges accepted Yahoo’s argument that Launchcast didn’t give users enough controls for the service to be considered interactive, the deciding factor in whether royalties were due.

Launchcast allows users to create a personalized ‘radio station’, playing their favourite musical genres. But, said judge Richard Wesley, “This degree of control is no different from a traditional radio listener expressing a preference for a country music station over a classic rock station.”

The appeal court also criticised the original trial judge, Richard Owen, for giving potentially misleading instructions to the jury, but said this had not affected the outcome.