In a major setback for owners of older copyrights, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit has upheld a December ruling from the N.Y. Court of Appeals in a class action lawsuit regarding performance rights of pre-1972 sound recordings, brought against SiriusXM by Flo & Eddie of The Turtles, known for the catchy 60’s hit, “Happy Together.”
The duo had sued the satellite operator for compensation under various state laws in New York, California and Florida for what was played on the platform; particularly SiriusXM’s classic music channels. A very favorable ruling for all radio and digital radio operators, it clarifies whether sound recordings made before 2/15/1972 are protected under federal copyright law.
On how the ruling directly impacts artists, Helene Freeman, co-counsel in Led Zeppelin’s U.S. court victory over the rights to “Stairway to Heaven,” advised, “For artists and record labels, their hope for any change must now shift to Congress, where efforts to amend the Copyright Law are ongoing. Attention should also shift to state legislatures, which can pass their own legislation to protect the rights of owners of pre-1972 that are not protected by federal law.”
SiriusXM did settle for at least $25 million with Flo & Eddie and the other song rights owners in their class action in the California case, on the eve of the trial.
Any coincidence that Sirius XM attorney Daniel Petrocelli also represented Donald Trump in the Trump University lawsuit? Asking for a friend.
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