Sirius XM Will Have to Defend Multiple Lawsuits Over Pre-1972 Music

January 2014

Record labels, internet


Sirius XM have failed in an attempt to move a $100 million class action lawsuit in California for distributing and performing pre-1972 sound recordings to New York, where the broadcaster is facing another action. The satcaster is also facing two more actions brought by major record labels and a fifth lawsuit from SoundExchange, the digital performance rights organization that collects royalties on behalf of sound recording copyright owners. The California lawsuit is being led by members of The Turtles who say that Sirius cannot rely on section 114 of the US Copyright Act for protection – as pre 1972 recordings are subject to state law – which may arguably mean that Sirius plays songs recorded before that date without permission. Sirius argued that the plaintiffs were playing “lawsuit lottery” alongside the actions in New York and the third in Florida and sought to have the case transferred to New York and perhaps consolidated. But U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez denied Sirius’ motion saying “it seems at this point that although the three suits share a common factual core, they are legally distinct and will turn on the separate interpretations of California, New York, and Florida law, respectively.”

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