On Wednesday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal told the California Supreme Court to take up the issue of whether the state protects the public performance of pre-1972 sound recordings.
The development is the latest in a high-stakes showdown that's been unraveling since Flo & Eddie of The Turtles brought class actions against Sirius XM and Pandora for broadcasting hits like "Happy Together." Sound recordings after 1972 fall within the scope of federal copyright law, but there's uncertainty whether broadcasters have to pay to perform recordings made earlier.
In one California case, Flo & Eddie scored a major success in 2014 by convincing a judge that the state did protect public performance. The judge's conclusion was based on a California law enacted in 1982 that didn't specifically limit ownership rights.