The ruling opens the floodgates on copyright claims over music record prior to 1972 – and puts Pandora and other broadcasters dependent on statutory licensing in the hot seat.
A California federal judge has delivered a legal earthquake in the music industry by declaring Flo & Eddie of The Turtles the victors in a lawsuit against SiriusXM over the public performance of pre-1972 sound recordings. The plaintiffs are seeking $100 million in damages, but the money is hardly the only consequence of a ruling on Monday that could eventually disrupt the operations of the satellite radio giant as well as other services like Pandora.
The lawsuit was filed in August 2013 and dealt with music created before sound recordings began falling under federal copyright protection. Flo & Eddie aimed to punish SiriusXM for not seeking authorization nor paying royalties on hit songs like "Happy Together," "It Ain't Me Babe" and "She'd Rather Be With Me," while the satcaster warned that interpreting state laws to cover public performance "would radically overturn decades of settled practice."
U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez, who previously acknowledged that the case "could have far-reaching effects," has elected to grant summary judgment to the plaintiffs on the issue of whether SiriusXM violates public performance rights.