Yesterday, the U.S. District Court of Central California ruled in favor of Flo & Eddie, Inc., allowing for a class action lawsuit to proceed against Sirius XM. Flo & Eddie—original members of The Turtles—had already achieved a victory in their initial lawsuit against Sirius XM back in 2014. The latest ruling opens up the possibility of restitution for any artist whose music was recorded before February, 15 1972 and is played by the satellite radio giant. For Sirius XM, this could mean a great deal of money spent on appeals or settlements. We wonder whether the potential expense exceeds what they’d have paid if they hadn’t stopped compensating for pre-’72s.
As Judge Philip Gutierrez writes in his decision, “given SiriusXM’s aggressive litigation tactics … and its decision to continue to perform pre-1972 recordings without authorization, it may be cost-prohibitive for owners with smaller value claims to pursue their claims against SiriusXM in this environment.” We think it’s a positive when individual creators’ rights are recognized alongside those of the big media companies. A closer examination of the case, however, indicates that Flo & Eddie sued as copyright owners, not performers. We are unclear on what this might mean for the larger community of musicians who don’t own their copyrights but should be compensated for digital performances nonetheless.
There’s been a lot of back-and-forth regarding a recent court ruling that maintains the current royalty rates paid by Internet radio company Pandora to ASCAP, a 100 year-old performing rights organization (PRO) that collects money for AM/FM and Internet radio play then distributes that revenue to songwriters and publishers.
In the coming days, we hope to offer varying viewpoints from individuals and groups in this ecosystem. For now, we’ll try to demystify this decision and the licensing frameworks that informed it.
Over the past ten years, internet and digital radio has evolved into a robust and viable business.
Services like Pandora, Sirius XM, Clear Channel’s IHeartRadio and Slacker are leading the way in delivering radio-like services to millions of music fans every day, and paying millions of dollars in digital performance royalties to rightsholders, performers and songwriters. read more
For decades, commercial radio airplay was considered the silver bullet for success: a form of promotion with sufficient power and reach to generate significant record sales, while also accruing royalties (for songwriters and publishers) and massively raising an artist’s profile. read more
Recording artists and indie labels: there’s a movement afoot to change the way that you would receive your digital public performance royalties, and it’s not a good one, especially for recording artists.
Back in August, we blogged about the news that Sirius/XM was considering doing a direct licensing deal, expressing our serious displeasure with the move.
In recent days, the artist community — including AFTRA, AFM, The Recording Academy,A2IM and SoundExchange — has been broadcasting the message to their members about the negative consequences of direct licensing deals for digital performance royalties. We applaud our artist colleagues for urging their members signed to indie labels (or self-released artists) to not accept these direct licensing deals.
We here at FMC wanted to join in the chorus and explain to musicians and labels why the current statutory licensing structure is better for all stakeholders.
The Great Spectrum Giveaway
The FCC is giving radio spectrum to community-based non-profit organizations in October. Radio for People, which includes Prometheus Radio, FMC, and Free Press, is assisting groups with the complicated application process, but many obstacles still exist to prevent community groups from breaking into a highly consolidated radio spectrum. by Megan Tady, In These Times, July 18, 2007read more