Rock band wins again in copyright battle against Sirius XM

Fri Nov 14, 2014 8:16pm EST
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By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A 1960s rock band on Friday won a second victory against Sirius XM Holdings Inc in a closely watched copyright battle affecting digital media.

U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon in Manhattan rejected Sirius' request to dismiss the lawsuit accusing the satellite radio company of playing pre-1972 songs from the band the Turtles, best known for the hit "Happy Together," without permission or paying royalties.

She said that unless Sirius by Dec. 5 raises any factual issues requiring a trial, she will rule outright for the plaintiff, Flo & Eddie Inc, a company controlled by founding Turtles members Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, and begin to assess damages.

Sirius and its lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Harvey Geller, a lawyer for Flo & Eddie, said his client is pleased. "From coast to coast, the owners of pre-1972 recordings are finally getting what is owed to them," he said.

Though songs recorded before Feb. 15, 1972, are not covered by federal copyright law, some recording artists and labels have been seeking copyright protection under individual state laws.

Flo & Eddie sued Sirius in New York, California and Florida, seeking class action status and more than $100 million of damages for alleged infringements by New York-based Sirius.

In September, U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez ruled in the California case that the band had a right "to possess and use its sound recordings and prevent others from using them." The court in Florida has yet to rule on Sirius' liability.   Continued...