Sirius XM Holdings Inc. may pay close to $100 million after settling a copyright lawsuit brought by founding members of the 1960s band The Turtles over the satellite radio company’s broadcast of songs made before 1972.
Terms of the proposed class-action settlement were disclosed in a Monday filing with the Los Angeles federal court, two weeks after Sirius resolved its differences with The Turtles’ Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman on the eve of a damages trial.
Sirius agreed to pay between $25 million and $40 million for past royalties, depending on the outcomes of related litigation, and enter a 10-year license agreement that could be worth between $45.5 million and $59.2 million.
The settlement would cover Kaylan’s and Volman’s company Flo & Eddie Inc. and other owners of pre-1972 songs that New York-based Sirius has played since August 2009. It requires approval by U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez in Los Angeles.
Sirius denied wrongdoing in agreeing to settle. It did not immediately respond on Tuesday to requests for comment.
Henry Gradstein, a lawyer for Kaylan and Volman, in a statement said his clients “had the tenacity to stay the course over three grueling years of litigation on behalf of all members of the class, because they believed in what was right.”
Digital radio services such as Sirius and Pandora Media Inc have resisted paying royalties for songs recorded before Feb. 15, 1972 because they lacked federal copyright protection.
But some recording artists and labels have persuaded courts to award copyright protection under individual state laws for older songs, such as The Turtles’ hit “Happy Together.”
In September 2014, Gutierrez found Sirius liable to Flo & Eddie under California law. A damages trial had been scheduled for November 15.
Flo & Eddie also sued Sirius in New York and Florida under those state’s copyright laws, prevailing in New York but losing in Florida.
Both decisions were appealed, and the respective federal appeals courts asked New York’s and Florida’s highest courts for guidance on what their states’ copyright laws cover.
In June 2015, Sirius agreed to pay five major record companies $210 million to settle a lawsuit over its broadcast of pre-1972 songs by the likes of the Beatles, Patsy Cline, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones.
The case is Flo & Eddie Inc. v. Sirius XM Radio Inc. et al, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, No. 13-05693.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Additional reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Tom Brown)
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