SiriusXM Has to Pay for Pre-1972 Recordings…


A decision has been made regarding The Turtles’ pre-1972 recording lawsuit against Sirius XM.

Sirius XM hasn’t been paying performance royalties for music recorded before 1972, including music by The Turtles. These pre-1972 recordings are covered by state law, but not federal law. Flo & Eddie of The Turtles say that state laws cover public performances, and that Sirius XM owes them royalties.

Flo & Eddie were seeking $100 million in damages.

Judge Philip Gutierrez awarded a victory to Flo & Eddie, saying this in his ruling:

“…Sirius XM publicly performs Flo & Eddie’s sound recordings without authorization to do so…At minimum, Flo & Eddie was injured by Sirius XM’s conduct in the form of foregone licensing or royalty payments that Sirius XM should have paid before publicly performing Flo & Eddie’s recordings.”

Gutierrez also said:

“There was wrongful disposition of that property right every time Sirius XM publicly performed the recordings without Flo & Eddie’s permission, in violation of California copyright law.”

This ruling will definitely have an impact on Sirius XM’s use of other pre-1972 recordings, as well as the use of other broadcasters.


Nina Ulloa covers breaking news, tech, and more. Follow her on Twitter: @nine_u

Photo by Me2, licensed under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

13 Responses

  1. FarePlay

    Well I can’t speak for the rest of the commenters, but this is a fairly big deal. At the most recent Congressional Hearings on Copyright, Pandora’s Spokesperson/Lawyer, Christopher Harrison, received a fairly chilling reception and was asked point blank if Pandora would abide by legislation favoring the payment for works created pre-1972. His answer? Yes.

    • Anonymous

      “this is a fairly big deal”

      You can say that again! It’s huge, and it’s awesome!

  2. anonymous

    dear pandora,
    good night motherfuckers. too bad your mansions can’t be taken back in the bankruptcy process. you cheap fucks.

  3. Remi Swierczek

    Time to convert XM, Pandora all other Radio and streaming to simple discovery based music stores.
    $100B music industry before 2020 with happiness to ALL!

  4. FarePlay

    “Up to 15 percent of the music that Sirius XM plays is from before 1972. It paid recording royalties last year equivalent to about 9 percent of its $3.8 billion in revenue.” Ben Sisario, NYT

    So, time for Pandora, Spotify, et al to stop blaming the cost of copyright for their troubles and start selling subscriptions and advertising, like Sirius XM. Man Up, Pay Up.

  5. An Indie

    This is fantastic news for legacy artists whose music powers much of SiriusXM’s “classic” (…rock, soul, blues, etc.) stations including full channels dedicated to music from the 50s and 60s. It definitely will change the economics for the artists who performed those songs and will rightfully cost SiriusXM and Pandora.

    That said, let’s not make the mistake of lumping in other services as Will (FarePlay) does above by naming Spotify. This is a loophole that existed between federal and state copyright laws regarding the compulsory right for digital broadcasters relying upon said compulsory right to play music. While I’m confident that FarePlay understands this distinction and didn’t intend to confuse anyone in his post, I just wanted to follow up to highlight this fact. On demand/interactive music services such as Spotify (and Rdio and Rhapsody and Google Play and iTunes Radio and Beats – RIP, etc.) must obtain direct, negotiated licenses with copyright owners and within the terms of those licenses have been paying for pre-72 copyrights.

    • FarePlay

      The Spotify reference has to do with their inability to move faster to secure paid subscribers, particularly in the United States.

  6. Thomas Giannini, Esq.

    A very equitable decision. The protection of sound recording copyrights – regardless of age – is of chief importance to our artists.

  7. Versus

    Great news!

    However, is this only for the state in question (California?)? Or is it binding nationally or internationally?


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