Sashkin /
3 October 2014Copyright

SiriusXM to appeal against Turtles ruling

Satellite radio station SiriusXM has said it will appeal against a court ruling that found it guilty of infringing the copyright of certain songs belonging to 1960s rock band The Turtles.

Sirius’s chief financial officer David Frear revealed the station’s plans to an audience at a Deutsche Bank leveraged finance conference, which took place in Arizona in the US this week.

"We think [the] judge is wrong and we intend to appeal his decision all the way through the appeal process," Frear said on Wednesday (October 1).

In a summary judgment issued last week at the US District Court for the Central District of California, Judge Philip Gutierrez ruled in favour of former Turtles frontmen Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, who had sued the broadcaster.

Suing under the stage names Flo and Eddie, the pair claimed that Sirius had infringed the band’s copyright by playing songs that were recorded before 1972.

In US law, works that predate 1972 fall outside the federal Copyright Act of 1976.

But, according to the plaintiffs, who initially filed a complaint at the Los Angeles Superior Court, the works are protected against unauthorised duplication under California’s civil code.

Judge Gutierrez agreed and said the band "has the right to possess and use its sound recordings and prevent others from possessing and using them."

A separate trial for damages was due to be held at a later date but The Turtles had previously said it was due $100 million.

Speaking to delegates, Frear added: "The Turtles, who recorded songs in the '60s, and for 33 years, failed to do anything to say they were being damaged.

“You would think their damage would have been far greater back then, for all the terrestrial radio stations that were playing ‘Happy Together’, and some of those other great songs," he added according to Billboard.

The Turtles, who were together from 1965 to 1970, had hits including Happy Together, It Ain't Me Babe and She'd Rather Be With Me.

Sirius, which describes itself as “the world’s leading radio broadcaster”, provides news, music, sports and entertainment. It has around 24 million subscribers and is available via satellite, online and on smartphones.

According to non-profit organisation SoundExchange, which collects and distributes appropriate royalties, pre-1972 songs account for an estimated 10% to 15% of the satellite-radio company's total airplay.

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More on this story

6 August 2013   US rock band The Turtles is leading a backlash against a satellite radio station claiming it has infringed copyright on thousands of songs to the tune of $100 million.
24 September 2014   A judge has backed 1960s US rock band The Turtles in its copyright infringement dispute against a satellite radio station.
17 November 2014   Satellite radio station SiriusXM has been dealt a further blow in its copyright dispute with 1960s rock band The Turtles after its attempt to dismiss another lawsuit was rejected by a US court.