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New York Appeals Court Overrules Protection of Pre-1972 Recordings

Lawsuit originally brought by The Turtles against SiriusXM sought compensation for older music

Early work of the Beatles, Dylan, the Rolling Stones, and other songs authored before Feb. 15, 1972, may not cost satellite radio provider SiriusXM anything to play anymore following a ruling by a New York appeals court on Tuesday.

The decision was made in one of the putative class action lawsuits that were brought by Flo & Eddie of the Turtles, who had previously filed litigation in New York, Florida and California against SiriusXM requiring the authorization to play their songs that were recorded before Feb. 15, 1972, when sound recordings became protected under federal copyright law.

The duo won initial victories for their case in both California and New York in 2014; Florida’s Ninth Circuit and Supreme Court are expected to rule on the case in the near future.

The New York decision, which was made by a New York District Court judge, has now been overturned by New York appeals court in a 2–1 decision. Judge Leslie Stein wrote in her decision: “It makes sense that, consistent with its name, copyright prevents copying of work, but does not prevent someone from using a copy, once it has been lawfully procured, in any other way the purchaser sees fit.”

New York’s 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, which originally ruled in favor or Flo & Eddie, may now be asked to look at the matter again.