US satellite broadcaster Sirius XM has reached a settlement with all three major record labels over the long-rumbling pre-1972 copyright dispute in the US, which has been highlighted in the actions brought by Flo & Eddie of the band the Turtles in New York, California and Florida. The recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) claim settlement also includes ABKCO – the owner of classic Rolling Stones copyrights – and the claimants (Capitol Records LLC, Sony Music Entertainment, UMG Recordings Inc, Warner Music Group and ABKCO) have jointly been awarded $210m as part of a settlement with Sirius. In a statement, Sirius said: “The settlement resolves all past claims as to our use of pre-1972 recordings owned or controlled by the plaintiffs and enables us, without any additional payment, to reproduce, perform and broadcast such recordings in the United States through December 31, 2017. As part of the settlement, we have the right, to be exercised before December 31, 2017, to enter into a license with each plaintiff to reproduce, perform and broadcast its pre-1972 recordings from January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2022.” That license should ensure that the majors, at least, are compensated for the performances of pre-1972 copyrights on Sirius in the States within the five year period. Sirius said: “The royalty rate for each such license will be determined by negotiation or, if the parties are unable to agree, binding arbitration.”
Michael Huppe, chief executive officer and president of the sound recording rights collection society SoundExchange said: “While it unfortunately required a lawsuit to make SiriusXM do the right thing, we are pleased that these legacy artists are finally getting the respect – and compensation – they deserve for the use of their music.
Welcoming the settlement, the head of the labels trade body in the USA, the RIAA, Cary Sherman, told reporters: “This is a great step forward for all music creators. Music has tremendous value, whether it was made in 1970 or 2015. We hope others take note of this important agreement and follow Sirius XM’s example” – the ‘others’ no doubt a pointed reference to rival service Pandora. Flo & Eddie’s litigation is ongoing, and it now has class action status meaning artists and labels not covered by the RIAA’s deal will benefit if the duo ultimately prevail.
Sirius said that between them, Universal, Sony, Warner and ABKCO control “approximately 80% of the pre-1972 recordings we have historically used”.