Nov 17, 2014
SoundExchange applauds The Turtles for yet another victory in the fight to protect their rights to—and the value of—their pre-1972 sound recordings. For the third time in two months, a court has ruled that pre-1972 sound recordings enjoy a public performance right under state law, and that digital radio services may not use those recordings without permission and without compensation.
Sirius XM has argued in numerous forums that there is no public performance right implicated when it uses pre-72 sound recordings protected by state law. Joining decisions in California federal and state courts, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York unequivocally rejected Sirius XM’s arguments, concluding that Sirius XM infringed upon The Turtle’s common law copyright and engaged in unfair competition. (Read the ruling here.)
“With the court in New York delivering a third strike against Sirius XM for its infringement of pre-72 recordings, we have to ask: How many rulings will it take until Sirius XM does the right thing? It was clear from the start that denying fair payment to legacy artists was wrong as a matter of fairness and justice. This decision confirms that Sirius XM’s conduct is also wrong as a matter of law,” said SoundExchange President and CEO Michael Huppe.
“With the RESPECT Act, Congress offered Sirius XM and other digital radio services an easy and efficient answer to get the rights that three courts have now confirmed they need. But Sirius XM opposes the legislation on the grounds that other inequities against artists persist elsewhere in the law. That is no excuse to avoid fixing this glaring problem. Congress should ensure fair treatment for legacy artists whose rights Sirius XM is routinely violating. In the face of these decisions, we shouldn’t allow justice to be postponed any longer,” said Huppe.
Earlier this year, SoundExchange was joined by a coalition of artists in launching Project72, a campaign to ensure fair compensation for those who recorded music before 1972 and in support of H.R. 4772, the RESPECT Act.