| 02 Jun 2023
Flo & Eddie of The Turtles win copyright infringement lawsuit against SiriusXM in California

MUMBAI: Flo & Eddie have won the lawsuit they filed against SiriusXM Holdings Inc. on 24 September in California. Last August, Flo & Eddie, who are part of The Turtles, filed a lawsuit against SiriusXM over the public performances of pre-1970 sound recordings. The lawsuit dealt with music created before sound recordings began falling under federal copyright protection.

US District Court Judge, Philip Gutierrez ruled in favour of Flo & Eddie stating that satellite radio provider- SiriusXM, infringed on copyrights by airing their pre-1972 songs without paying royalties. Judge Gutierrez stated that the copyright ownership of a sound recording includes the exclusive right to publicly perform that recording and currently those belong to Flo & Eddie.

Flo & Eddie aimed to punish SiriusXM for not seeking authorisation nor paying royalties on hit tracks like 'Happy Together,' 'It Ain't Me Babe,' 'Eleanor' and 'She'd Rather Be With Me.' To this, the judge stated that the Californian law was enacted in 1982 and SiriusXM failed to persuade the judge that California's law was ambiguous in the wake of the passage of new federal copyright law. It also struck out in its contention that decades of television and radio broadcasters, restaurant and bar owners, website operators and others exploiting music from before 1972, supported its interpretation of the law.

Though songs recorded before 1972 are not covered by US federal copyright law, bands and recording labels have been seeking protection and royalties under state laws. The lawsuit states that in addition to broadcasting and streaming Flo & Eddie's sound recordings, SiriusXM had allegedly engaged in copying Flo & Eddie's sound recordings for public performances.

The ruling could potentially make it more expensive for satellite-radio broadcasters and Internet radio companies such as Pandora Media Inc to feature classic songs on their playlists. Pandora is, in fact facing a lawsuit by record labels in New York. SiriusXM is facing another lawsuit from the Recording Industry Association of American (RIAA) in California as well as more lawsuits from Flo & Eddie in other states.

Flo & Eddie was created in 1971 and is owned and controlled by Howard Kaylan (Eddie) and Mark Volman (Flo), two of the founding members of the Turtles, who were most popular for their 1967 hit single 'Happy Together'.

This ruling potentially opens the floodgates to more litigation on the issue of pre-1972 music.