Month: October 2014

Las Tortugas

Tortugas
Noun
1.  slow-moving reptiles, enclosed in scaly or leathery domed shells into which they often retract their heads and legs.
2.  slow-moving mammals who sleep until noon and bathe infrequently, but who turtalised Sirius XM in Ca. District Court.

Here is a picture of each in their native environment:

Turtle          Musician

When you hear a song played on radio, you are hearing two copyrights: one for the composition, another for the recording of the composition. The latter is the sound recording copyright, and sound recordings created since 1972 are protected by federal copyright law.

The Turtles were a band with hits prior to 1972, most notably “Happy Together.”  Sirius has broadcast these sound recordings for years without paying royalties to the Turtles. Sirius claimed that no copyright arose for a pre-1972 sound recording, and no state law to the contrary trumped the federal statute.

So, the Turtles pulled an end-around and sued Sirius  in a California state court. After removal to the U.S. District Court, the Turtles were awarded summary judgment. The Court found that Sirius violated the public performance right for the sound recordings under California law. Whether Sirius unlawfully reproduced the sound recordings was left for the trier of fact.

This could start of a tidal wave of litigation. Here’s the opinion: Flo & Eddie v. Sirius XM.

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