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17 November 2014Copyright

Turtles hit SiriusXM with another copyright blow

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.

In a decision handed down by the US District Court for the Southern District of New York on November 14, Sirius was denied its request for a summary judgment of non-infringement.

Judge Colleen McMahon said The Turtles have performing rights to their pre-1972 recordings under New York state law.

The dispute started last year when The Turtles sued Sirius in California, New York and Florida. They argued that by playing songs recorded before 1972 without permission, the broadcaster had infringed the group’s rights under those states’ laws.

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

The latest ruling comes after a separate win for The Turtles in September, when a federal judge in California found Sirius liable for infringement under the state’s laws.

“In short, general principles of common law copyright dictate that public performance rights in pre-1972 sound recordings do exist,” McMahon wrote in her judgment in New York.

Sirius has until December 5 to dispute any factual issues; otherwise it will be found liable for infringement.

The Turtles, which were together from 1965 to 1970, had hits including Happy Together and It Ain't Me Babe.

It is the third blow to the broadcaster in recent weeks after a judge at the Los Angeles Superior Court last month sided with Sony, Universal and Warner, which had also claimed copyright infringement.

Despite initially appearing to side with Sirius at a pre-trial hearing in July, Judge Mary Strobel said last week that she accepted the plaintiffs’ motion to instruct the jury that California law protects pre-1972 recordings.

Strobel added that the law “must be interpreted to recognise ... public performance rights in pre-1972 sound recordings”.

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

Sirius did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

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More on this story

3 October 2014   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.
20 October 2014   A satellite radio broadcaster that fell foul of US copyright law for playing songs recorded before 1972 could be in further trouble after a US judge weighed in on a second case against it.