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Pandora wins court battle with music publishers

LOS ANGELES — Internet radio leader Pandora has won a court battle with the music publishing society known as ASCAP that could help it lower its royalty payments.

Pandora pays 4.3 percent of its revenue in songwriter royalties to groups including ASCAP, which distributes them to major publishers like Sony/ATV and Warner/Chappell. Starting two years ago, major publishers began to withdraw rights from Pandora, forcing it to reach separate deals.

Judge Denise Cote’s ruling in a federal district court in New York on Tuesday said such withdrawals violate the conditions ASCAP has acted under since a 1941 agreement to prevent anticompetitive behavior.

ASCAP says the ruling does not undermine its position that songwriters should be paid fairly by Pandora, an issue to be addressed in a December trial.

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