Internet, broadcasting, recorded music
The Turtles, the 1960s pop band, have won a second victory against SiriusXM Holdings Inc. U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon in Manhattan rejected Sirius’ request to dismiss the lawsuit accusing the satellite radio company of playing pre-1972 songs from the band, best known for the hit “Happy Together” without permission or paying royalties. She said that unless Sirius raises any factual issues requiring a trial by December 5th, she will rule outright for the plaintiff, Flo & Eddie Inc, a company controlled by founding Turtles members Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, and begin to assess damages. The Judge said “Of course, the conspicuous lack of any jurisprudential history confirms that not paying royalties for public performances of sound recordings was an accepted fact of life in the broadcasting industry for the last century. So does certain testimony cited by Sirius from record industry executives, artists and others, who argued vociferously before Congress that it was unfair for them to operate in an environment in which they were paid nothing when their sound recordings were publicly performed…. That they were paid no royalties was a matter of statutory exemption under federal law; that they demanded no royalties under the common law when their product as ineligible for federal copyright protection is, in many ways, inexplicable. But acquiescence by participants in the recording industry in a status quo where recording artists and producers were not paid royalties while songwriters were does not show that they lacked an enforceable right under the common law – only that they failed to act on it and Modern federal law supports the notion that an express carve-out is required in order to circumscribe the bundle of rights appurtenant to copyright. More here and here. Digital Music News opines that based on Judge McMahon’s comments ” Although the defendant in the case is a digital service, the ruling would appear to apply to any radio station, nightclub, or any other venue that plays recorded music in New York”. So, traditionally free from paying royaties for recorded music in the USA – is broadcast radio next???