Turtles look to block SiriusXM settlement

August 2015

Artistes, sound recordings, broadcasting


Flo & Eddie, the Turtles founders who have led attempts to collect royalties for pre-1972 sound recordings under US state laws, have rejected the move by American major record companies to secure an out-of-court settlement secured with Sirius XM.
The Recording Industry Association Of America (RIAA) announced that it had settled its separate legal battle with Sirius on the pre-1972 issue, with the three majors and ABKCO, which controls early Rolling Stones recordings, and are set to receive $210 million in a deal that also sees the music companies providing the satellite broadcaster with a licence on pre-1972 catalogue up to the end of 2017.  With post-1972 recordings, Sirius pays for recording rights through collection society SoundExchange, which then splits the money 50/50 between artists and labels.
Flo & Eddie’s attorneys say that the RIAA’s agreement interferes with the musicians’ ongoing class action against Sirius. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the duo’s lawyers Henry Gradstein and Harvey Geller say the record industry’s legal claim against Sirius was a “coattail action” and the subsequent settlement a “brazen attempt to disrupt and interfere with the class action process”. They added: “In other words, Sirius XM and the major labels purported to settle claims for the use of pre-1972 recordings owned by other class members, and by doing so usurped the role of the court and class counsel”.
Gradstein and Geller want the court to force Sirius to pay the $210 million into an independent bank account under court control, with no payments being made to any rights owners until Flo & Eddie’s cases against the satellite broadcaster has reached its completion.
UPDATE (24.07.15)
The RIAA’s have succeeded in persuading the court that their deal with Sirius only covered recordings owned by the three majors and ABKCO, and that the rights of any other recording owners were not affected by the deal. The court IN LA sided with the record industry trade group, saying that Universal, Sony, Warner and ABKCO settling with Sirius did not impact on Flo & Eddie’s class. And also, given that G&M had tried to get a seat at the negotiating table after hearing about the RIAA/Sirius talks, and had since started their own direct negotiations after Sirius insisted on keeping the two settlements separate, the time to complain about all this had long gone. The curt said: “G&M’s delay in challenging Sirius XM’s communications with the record companies and even the settlement itself suggests to the court that G&M did not care to enjoin the settlement payment or seek to recover a portion of it until G&M learned the size of the settlement. If class counsel took issue with Sirius XM communicating with the record companies post-certification, it should have moved to restrict such communication after the court certified the class”.



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