Music Mondays – The Turtles lose legal battle over royalties in Florida

They might have been “Happy Together” years ago, but vocalists for The Turtles won’t be pleased with a ruling the Florida Supreme Court made Thursday.

The court unanimously sided with SiriusXM in a dispute about whether the satellite radio giant has to pay royalties to Flo & Eddie, a California-based company whose principals are The Turtles vocalists Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan.

Flo & Eddie filed the Florida lawsuit in 2013 against SiriusXM and filed similar cases in New York and California.

The Florida lawsuit accused SiriusXM of infringing on what Flo & Eddie believed was a common-law copyright of songs by making “unauthorized public performances” of the pop group’s hits.

But Thursday’s ruling upheld a decision by a federal judge, who found that nothing in Florida statutes or common law deals with copyrights of recordings that were made before 1972, when the federal Sound Recordings Act went into effect.

Flo & Eddie appealed, but the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case to the Florida Supreme Court, asking justices to decide, among other things, whether state common law recognizes a property right in sound recordings.

Florida law “has never previously recognized an exclusive right of public performance for sound recordings,” Justice Charles Canady wrote in Thursday’s 35-page unanimous decision.

Justice R. Fred Lewis concurred but did not sign on to the majority opinion.

“To recognize such a right for the first time today would be an inherently legislative task. Such a decision would have an immediate impact on consumers beyond Florida’s borders and would affect numerous stakeholders who are not parties to this suit,” Canady wrote.

– Except from an article written by Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida. See the full article here

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