Indie Music Agency Merlin Scores Another Settlement: $1.6 Million From Sirius

On the heels of a payout from the owners of P2P filesharing site Limewire, another claim finally settled for Merlin, the group that represents independent music labels in licensing negotiations and legal actions: the group says that Sirius Satellite Radio has settled for $1.6 million in a copyright infringement suit brought against Sirius by the agency.

Merlin says the claim concerned Sirius’ Stiletto product as well as other recording devices, and was years in coming: Sirius had settled similar claims brought by the major record labels in 2007 and 2008.

Merlin says the court has approved the settlement, which had been brought originally as a class-action suit. This means that Merlin members and other independent labels that had sound recordings transmitted by Sirius Satellite Radio between November 2005 and August 26, 2011, are entitled to get some proceeds. Merline represents labels like Warp Records, Epitaph, Naïve, Tommy Boy, One Little Indian,  Beggars Group, Merge, !K7, PIAS, Domino and Koch/E1; and artists like Adele, Arctic Monkeys, Vampire Weekend, Arcade Fire, The xx, The National, Tom Waits, DJ Khaled, Dorrough and Tiësto.

However, considering the size of the total settlement, this is probably more of a symbolic victory than something that will actually mean a windfall for individual musicians. On the positive side, along with other settlements achieved by Merlin, this also lays the groundwork for future negotiations over licensing music from smaller players.

“At a time where market consolidation is swallowing up more independent interests, delivering even more power into the hands of the largest major labels, adding this settlement to the growing list of litigation successes achieved by Merlin on behalf of its members is gratifying,” Charles Caldas, Merlin CEO, said in a statement. “Actions such as this further underline the enormous value that Merlin provides to the ever growing list of independents that have chosen to enhance their business by joining our organisation.”

Merlin says it had reached a similar, separate settlement over copyright infringement with XM Satellite Radio (now merged with Sirius) back in April 2011. Other settlements include a deal with Grooveshark.

Merlin says that collectively the labels it represents currently account for about 10 percent of the music market in the U.S. In the UK, where Merlin is based, the proportion is slightly higher at 11 percent. It has signed licensing deals with Spotify, YouTube, Google Music, Rdio and others.