New York stops the litigious sprawl of pre-1972 sound copyrights

23 12 2016
There are no federal copyrights in sound recordings from before 1972, but some states have granted copyrights in those works.

In 2013, two members of the 1960s rock band The Turtles, who use the company name Flo & Eddie, sued Sirius XM and the Pandora online service, saying they should get paid royalties for their older tunes under state copyright laws. Major record labels filed similar lawsuits shortly thereafter.

It was an untested theory. For music copyright holders, until this week, it was a successful one. After Sirius suffered legal setbacks in cases in both New York and California, the company ended up paying out a $210 million settlement to the RIAA, while Pandora paid $90 million. The Turtles’ California case settled just before trial last month on undisclosed terms. A case filed in Florida is still on appeal.


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