Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Turtles Big Win!

No, this is not a story about the Turtles winning a race against the Hares, but rather a story about the Turtles, the iconic 60s' rock band winning a summary judgment in a California state court on its claim that Sirius XM could not play its pre-1972 music without paying some form of royalties. Please see the Wall Street Journal's story on the California case here.

You might think that, given the equities, Sirius XM would not have been using the Turtles, or other artists, pre-1972 recordings on its satellite service without paying compensation to the artists. But you would be wrong. The federal copyright law only protects sound recordings from 1972 onward, a quirk in the law that should be rectified.

We plan to have more to say about this important case and its implications in the near future after reviewing the court's decision. But, in the meantime, it is enough to point out that, whether through an updating of the federal copyright law, or through application of state laws that protect against copyright violations or misappropriation of property interests or the like, there is a sound public policy rationale for securing the rights of artists to be compensated for their work -- whether that work was created in 1971 or 1973.