TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Supreme Court is set to hear arguments
in a copyright infringement lawsuit that was filed by 1960s rock
group The Turtles against U.S.-based SiriusXM satellite radio on
April 6, according to the News
Service of Florida.
Flo & Eddie Inc., the California-based company whose
principals are Turtles vocalists Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan, filed
a lawsuit in 2013 alleging copyright infringement involving music
that had been made before 1972, against SiriusXM for the protection
of pre-1972 sound recordings.
According to a previous report on the Florida
Record, Volman and Kaylan are challenging the long-held
assumption that radio broadcasters are required to pay owners any
royalties for their sound recordings prior to Feb. 15, 1972.
The Federal Copyright Act of 1976 states the protections for
rights over original musical works, which includes sound recordings
and compositions from that date. The Florida Record report
said that legislation dating as far back as 1897 provides broad
federal protections for musical compositions, but doesn’t address
Previous courts in California and New York found in favor of Flo &
Eddie involving lawsuits against SiriusXM. However, a district court
for Florida’s Southern District found in June last year that there
were no statutes or common law in the state that covers
sound-recording property rights made before 1972.
In a report
on The 1709 Blog, Judge Darrin Gayle said “Florida is different”
compared to California and New York. Gayle said that “there is no
specific Florida legislation covering sound-recording property
rights, nor is there a bevy of case law interpreting common law
copyright related to the arts.”
News preceding this found in December 2016 that a majority of New
York’s highest court rules that SiriusXM doesn’t require
permission or need to pay compensation to owners of pre-1972 music
recordings in order to play their tracks in case they were brought by
the owners of The Turtle’s 1967 hit “Happy Together.”
On June 29, 2016, according to court documents,
the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decided to ask the state
Supreme Court to determine whether Florida recognizes common-law
copyright. In a 1943 magician’s case, Glazer
V. Hoffman, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that while the
trademark rights to a name can be protected, the act of the
entertainment is not.
Now, however, according to the News
Service of Florida report
on NewsHerald.com, the case was passed to the 11th U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals, which asked the Florida Supreme Court to
take up the issues involving state law.
If, however, Flo & Eddie do win, SiriusXM, the Internet music
service Pandora and many others “would owe damages not only to
(them), but potentially all other owners of pre-1972 sound
recordings,” which would include “every recording ever made by
The Beatles, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, not to mention
Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey,” according to a 2014
blog post by Nova Southeastern University copyright officer
According to attorney John Rizvi of Gold & Rizvi, who
to the Florida Record, finding Flo & Eddie in favor would
bring Florida into line with the federal Sound Recording Act of 1971.