US satellite radio settles over old songs

December 1, 2016
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US satellite radio provider Sirius XM has agreed to pay $210 million to settle a lawsuit over its lack of payments for playing pre-1972 songs, a royalties board said/AFP
US satellite radio provider Sirius XM has agreed to pay $210 million to settle a lawsuit over its lack of payments for playing pre-1972 songs, a royalties board said/AFP

, LOS ANGELES, United States, Dec 1 – Satellite radio provider SiriusXM has agreed to pay up to another $100 million to settle a dispute over playing music from before 1972 when US copyright laws came into force.

SiriusXM whose audience skews older and generously plays rock classics  last year reached a separate $210 million settlement over pre-1972 songs owned by major record labels.

Overview
  • But the radio network had still faced a series of class-action lawsuits championed by Flo and Eddie, the vocal pair behind The Turtles, the group behind hits such as 1967's "Happy Together."
  • Flo and Eddie, campaigning on behalf of smaller label and independent artists, argued that their music had still been protected by US states even though federal copyright law only applies to recordings starting on February 15, 1972.

But the radio network had still faced a series of class-action lawsuits championed by Flo and Eddie, the vocal pair behind The Turtles, the group behind hits such as 1967’s “Happy Together.”

Flo and Eddie, campaigning on behalf of smaller label and independent artists, argued that their music had still been protected by US states even though federal copyright law only applies to recordings starting on February 15, 1972.

On the eve of a federal trial, lawyers for Flo and Eddie this week filed a proposed settlement with SiriusXM to resolve the suits in a federal court in Los Angeles.

If approved by federal judge Philip Gutierrez, SiriusXM will pay up to $100 million for past and future airing of pre-1972 songs, with the exact amount contingent on the network’s revenue.

The Turtles have a similar case pending against Pandora, the leading US internet radio network.

The United States has a complicated system of royalty payments that has long frustrated record labels and artists, with traditional radio stations paying only songwriters and not performers.

The rise of internet and satellite music sites has muddled the waters further, with companies negotiating conditions with labels and publishers.

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