Satellite Radio on the Download?

You might have thought, after the demise of Napter and the ensuing deluge of RIAA lawsuits, that satellite radio was a pretty safe bet. After all, you’re not so much downloading music as you are catching it as it falls from the sky. Kinda like collecting rainwater. As consumer, you’d be right. You’re relatively safe, for now. It’s the providers that could be in trouble, as XM radio learned upon getting sued by RIAA.

XM Radio

The recording industry on Tuesday sued XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. (Nasdaq:XMSR – news), alleging its Inno device that can store music infringes on copyrights and transforms a passive radio experience into the equivalent of a digital download service like iTunes.

The suit accuses XM Satellite of “massive wholesale infringement,” and seeks $150,000 in damages for every song copied by XM customers using the devices, which went on sale earlier this month. XM, with more than 6.5 million subscribers, said it plays 160,000 different songs every month.

“…Because XM makes available vast catalogues of music in every genre, XM subscribers will have little need ever again to buy legitimate copies of plaintiffs’ sound recordings,” the lawsuit says referring to the hand held “Inno” device.

The suit says that XM has touted its service’s advantages over the iPod and cites XM’s advertising literature that says “It’s not a Pod. It’s the mothership.”

 At $150,000 a pop, you’d better be careful what you beam down from “the mothership.” But, as the guys over at Gizmodo suggest, you might want to get yourself an Inno before they disappear forever. (Though the folks at XM say the lawsuit is just a negotiating tactic.)

In slightly related news, if you’re a Sirius Radio subscriber you’ll can listen to Bad Astrology blogger Phil Plait on Discovery Channel Radio at 9:00pm EST. He’ll be talking about the likelihood of Earth having a run in with a comet sometime next week…