U.S. District Judge Denise Cote (also presiding over the DOJ/Apple e-book suit) has ruled a 5-year Pandora (P +0.9%) license obtained from music publisher/songwriter group ASCAP in Jan. '11 isn't affected by decisions from top publishers (inc. EMI and Sony/ATV) to remove digital media rights from ASCAP and directly negotiate with Web radio providers.
Pandora has been arguing direct deals are illegal, and bought a Rapid City, SD radio station in an effort to pay lower performance royalties to ASCAP and others. The company has also sued ASCAP over Web radio royalty rates that are higher than radio rates. However, Pandora's performance royalties are much smaller than its recording royalties (paid to SoundExchange).
Meanwhile, on a day when iTunes Radio becomes available to the general public, Pandora is rolling out a major overhaul for its iPad app. New features include additional tools for discovering artists similar to the playing at a given moment, and a timeline that tracks a user's Pandora activity, and a Facebook-like "Music Feed."
Shares are making new highs again after very briefly selling off on news of Pandora's 14M-share stock offering.