Another Setback for Sirius XM in Turtles Copyright Case

By | January 16, 2015

A New York federal judge on Thursday largely rejected Sirius XM Holdings Inc’s request to reconsider her Nov. 14 decision in favor of members of the 1960s band The Turtles over the payment of royalties for songs made before 1972.

U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon rejected Sirius’ arguments that Flo & Eddie Inc, controlled by founding band members Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, did not own copyrights in The Turtles’ recordings such as “Happy Together,” or gave it an “implied” license to play Turtles songs.

She did, however, agree with the New York-based satellite radio company that Flo & Eddie could recover damages for copyright infringement only for the three years before it sued on Aug. 16, 2013, not six years as she had previously suggested.

A lawyer for Flo & Eddie said the plaintiff plans by an April 3 deadline to formally seek class action certification on behalf of itself and other artists, rather than accept McMahon’s alternative of an immediate ruling on liability in its favor.

“We’re obviously pleased that the judge sees the law the same way we do,” the lawyer Harvey Geller said in a telephone interview.

A spokesman for Sirius had no immediate comment.

The lawsuit is one of a handful challenging Sirius and Pandora Media Inc over their playing of songs recorded before Feb. 15, 1972. Though such songs are not covered by federal copyright law, some recording artists and labels have won rulings entitling them to copyright protection under individual state laws.

Record sales have long been falling industrywide, forcing artists and labels to depend more on online or satellite services to make money.

Flo & Eddie has filed lawsuits in New York, California and Florida, seeking more than $100 million for Sirius’ alleged infringements. In September, a federal judge in California found Sirius liable for infringements under that state’s laws.

The case is Flo & Eddie Inc v. Sirius XM Radio Inc et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 13-05784.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York, editing by G Crosse

Topics New York

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.