SiriusXM Agrees To Pay Up To $99 Million To Settle Turtles-Backed Copyright Lawsuits
November 29, 2016 at 12:43 PM (PT)
SIRIUSXM has agreed to pay up to $99 million to settle a group of lawsuits over music copyrights on recordings made before 1972, the NY TIMES reports. The lawsuits were started three years ago by members of the '60s band THE TURTLES, best known for their chart-topping 1967 hit, "Happy Together."
Federal copyright only began to be applied to recordings in 1972, and three years ago members of the band filed three lawsuits against SIRIUSXM for playing its songs without permission, claiming protection under state copyright laws in CALIFORNIA, FLORIDA and NEW YORK.
The class-action suits were filed by FLO & EDDIE INC. — a company run by the band's MARK VOLMAN and HOWARD KAYLAN, which controls the band’s music rights. YESTERDAY, lawyers filed papers in a CALIFORNIA revealing the proposed settlement terms, which must be approved by the court.
The deal calls for SIRIUSXM to pay a minimum of $25 million for its past unlicensed use of the pre-'72 recordings, with up to $15 million in additional payments depending on whether the band prevail in appeals pending in NEW YORK and FLORIDA. In addition, the satellite radio giant agreed to a 10-year license for recordings by class members, paying a 5.5% royalty rate, an amount which could be worth between $45 million and $59 million, depending on projections of SIRIUSXM’s revenue growth over the next decade.
The payments would apply to the owners of any recordings from before 1972 that have been played by the satellite radio service without permission. It does not include recordings owned by the major labels, which settled their own suit against SIRIUSXM last year for $210 million (NET NEWS, JUNE 26th, 2015).
The settlement still leaves unresolved the underlying legal question of whether state laws allow the owners of older songs to control performing rights for those recordings. THE TURTLES are also pursuing a similar case against PANDORA.