The Turtles are About to Get Paid $99 Million from SiriusXM

So Happy Together? SiriusXM to pay former The Turtles members, Flo and Eddie, up to $99 million
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So Happy Together? SiriusXM to pay former The Turtles members, Flo and Eddie, up to $99 million
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Image by Mike Troiano (CC by 2.0)

Why are Flo and Eddie so happy together? Former The Turtles band members got $99 million from SiriusXM.

SiriusXM will pay up Flo and Eddie Inc at least $25 million for illegally playing The Turtles songs. According to The New York Times, SiriusXM faced a three lawsuits from Mark Volman and Howard Kaylen, formerly of The Turtles.

The lawsuits claimed that SiriusXM played The Turtles songs without permission. Flo and Eddie claimed protection under California, New York, and Florida state laws. Sony, Universal, and Warner followed suit. The lawsuit comes over an obscure aspect of copyright law: recordings made before 1972. Federal copyright on songs began after 1972.

The settlement guarantees Flo & Eddie $25 million. The Turtles will receive an additional $15 million if they win their New York and Florida appeals. In addition, the broadcasting company agreed to a 10-year license, paying a 5.5% royalty rate for playing. The filing states that the amount may equal “between $45 million and $59 million.” The payments apply only to pre-1972 songs.

In October 2014, Judge Mary Strobel ruled that SiriusXM could not “continue to play those tracks without properly getting licenses from all parties involved.” Under California law, songs

“must be interpreted to recognize exclusive ownership rights as encompassing public performance rights in pre-1972 sound recordings.”

In 2015, the broadcasting company agreed to pay labels $210 million to major and independent music labels. Pandora Media faced a similar lawsuit, and agreed to pay major labels $90 million. Furthermore, The Turtles are also pursuing a similar lawsuit against Pandora.

According to The New York Times, the settlements leave some issues unresolved,

“…including the underlying legal question of whether state laws allow the owners of older songs to control performing rights for those recordings.”

You can check out the settlement ruling below.

One Response

  1. Bill Keating

    The tilt of this article towards Flo & Eddie is really not justified. These two, who after The Turtles toured with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, did not personally receive a settlement of $25 to $40 million. This amount is to be divided among all the artists and copyright owners who joined the class that was led by Flo & Eddie. Those two I believe will receive an extra $25,000 each as leaders of the class. Not millions.

    The amount fixed for future royalty payments was not especially generous, either. Flo & Eddie wanted this settlement more than Sirius. The reason is the utterly glacial pace at which civil court proceedings move. This lawsuit was already three years old, and was just entering the jury trial to set the damages for Sirius to pay. This would have consumed at least another six months.

    Then the case would have gone up on appeal on the issues of liability, amount of damages, and proper selection of the class. This would have taken another year and a half to two years, and Flo & Eddie’s attorneys seemed concerned about the possibility of the class action selection part of the case being overturned.

    These courts will just wear everyone out.