Copyright Law

Turtles members lose royalty battle in Florida

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Flo and Eddie, members of the ’60s rock group the Turtles, have been making the rounds on the concert circuit as well as in the courts. Photo by Brian Hineline/Retna Ltd.

Florida law doesn’t protect performers seeking compensation for recordings made before 1972, the Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The court ruled in a legal battle for royalties by a company created by Flo and Eddie of the Turtles, report the Hollywood Reporter, (sub. req.), the Orlando Sentinel and Ars Technica.

Federal copyright law does not protect recordings made before 1972. Flo & Eddie Inc., which controls music rights for the Turtles, had claimed in a suit against SiriusXM that the older recordings were protected by common law in Florida, New York and California.

Sirius reached a settlement with Flo & Eddie Inc. last December in a deal worth as much as $99 million; the actual settlement amount depended on the pending appeals based on state law.

Flo & Eddie lost the New York case weeks later. Now the Florida Supreme Court has also ruled against Flo & Eddie, holding that Florida law doesn’t recognize an exclusive right of public performance in pre-1972 sound recordings. How Appealing links to the Florida Supreme Court’s decision, issued in response to questions certified by the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Florida law “has never previously recognized an exclusive right of public performance for sound recordings,” the court said. “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.”

Turtles songs include “Happy Together” and “Can I Get to Know You Better.”

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