“A federal judge sided with internet radio service Pandora over the music industry in a bitter fight over songwriting royalties Wednesday, after concluding that Pandora is more akin to regular radio than other music services like iTunes Radio and Spotify,” Jeff John Roberts reports for Gigaom. “In a decision published Wednesday in New York, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote concluded that Pandora should continue paying a royalty rate of 1.85 percent of its annual revenues, and that the 3 percent music publishers had sought was not ‘reasonable.’ “While the parties announced the numbers on Friday, the judge only published her 136-page decision this week after Pandora, Apple and others had an opportunity to redact confidential information.”

“Even though it falls short of the 1.7 percent Pandora had requested, the company is likely pleased with the 1.85 percent figure; that is what it currently pays, and the decision lifts a cloud of uncertainty at a time when Pandora is struggling to become profitable,” Roberts reports. “The court also rejected the music companies attempt to use Apple, which launched a radio service of its own late last year, as a royalty model. While Apple is rumored to be paying ASCAP a 10 percent royalty rate, Judge Cote ruled that this amounts to an apples-to-oranges comparison, in part because the service is new and because Apple is using it promote its hardware products.”

“The ruling in favor of Pandora may further embitter certain songwriters who blame digital musical services for undercutting artists’ ability to make a living,: Roberts reports. “The bottom line is that the ruling puts Pandora on about equal footing with other radio stations when it comes to paying ASCAP, but the music royalty system still appears deeply distressed and uneven.”

Much more in the full article here.