Satellite radio company SiriusXM has settled its copyright lawsuits over recordings made before 1972 with an award that could pay out up to $99 million, according to a story in the New York Times.
Three years ago, Flo & Eddie Inc., members of the popular ’60s band the Turtles, known for their hit “Happy Together,” filed three lawsuits against SiriusXM for playing its songs without permission, claiming copyright protection under state laws in California, Florida and New York.
Federal copyright laws only started applying to recordings as of 1972 and these lawsuits were brought to clarify the laws. Everything has been watched closely by the music industry. Lawyers for the plaintiffs filed papers in a federal court in California revealing the proposed settlement terms, which still need to be approved by the court.
According to the deal, SiriusXM will make two types of payments, including to many independent artists and record companies. For its past unlicensed use, SiriusXM will pay a minimum of $25 million, with up to $15 million in additional payments depending on pending appeals. Also, the streaming company agreed to a 10-year license for recordings by the class members, paying a 5.5% royalty, which could be worth up to $59 million, depending on SiriusXM revenue growth.
Payments would apply to whomever owns the recordings from before 1972 that have been played on the company’s stations without permission.
The Turtles are also looking at a similar case against Pandora.