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Pandora near $90M settlement to end oldies suit

Online radio giant Pandora is poised to fork over roughly $90 million to the major record companies as payment for use of pre-1972 recordings, The Post has learned.

The company would be the second major radio outlet to settle with rights holders. In June, Sirius paid $210 million to resolve a long-running lawsuit over its broadcast of oldies.

Pandora would pay $60 million for the use of recordings through 2015, and another $30 million to cover through 2016. The company’s board is expected to approve the deal at an Oct. 20 meeting, sources said.

“We don’t comment on rumor or speculation,” a Pandora spokeswoman said.

Last year, recording companies filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, accusing Pandora of violating the state’s copyright protections by using recordings of older songs without permission.

Sirius and Pandora contend that federal copyright law covering master recordings didn’t begin until Feb. 15, 1972, and they don’t have to pay performance royalties.

But some recording artists and labels have won rulings entitling them to copyright protection under individual state laws. The Turtles, known for the hit “Happy Together,” helped bring about a change after a California judge ruled they were entitled to public performance fees in a suit against Sirius XM.

The band also acted first against Pandora, filing a similar suit to the one against Sirius XM in California. The three big labels, Sony, Universal and Warner Music, along with ABKCO, an independent label, followed with their own complaint against Pandora in New York.

In February, Pandora suffered a setback in The Turtles suit when Judge Philip Gutierrez — the same judge who ruled in favor of the band against Sirius XM — denied the company’s motion to move the suit out of his court.

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