A Seismic Ruling On Pre-1972 Sound Recordings and State Copyright Law–Flo & Eddie v. Sirius XM Radio (Guest Blog Post)

28 11 2014

[ed: article provides a helpful primer on copyright and sound recordings/radio/public performance]

By Tyler Ochoa

A federal court in California has held that a California statute, Civil Code §980(a)(2), protects sound recordings fixed before February 15, 1972 against unauthorized public performance.  The ruling is a victory for Flo & Eddie, Inc., a corporation that owns the rights to sound recordings made in the 1960s by the musical group The Turtles, including the hit song “Happy Together”; and a defeat for Sirius XM Radio, which tried to convince the court that California law only prohibited unauthorized reproduction and sale, and did not extend to public performances.  More generally, it is huge victory for sound recording copyright owners and a big defeat for broadcasters, one that threatens to undo a 75-year-old consensus that state law does not provide a public performance right for sound recordings.


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