Songs recorded before 1972 do not receive copyright protection under U.S. law, but California Judge Mary Strobel recently ruled that this does not mean digital music firms like the satellite radio company SiriusXM are allowed to play classic recordings repeatedly and not pay the artists or record labels that own the songs.
Late last month another similar ruling was made by a federal court. The Turtles won in their $100 million class-action lawsuit against SiriusXM because they played the band’s songs without permission, according to Rolling Stone.
Essentially Strobel’s ruling was based on the idea of recognizing exclusive ownership rights as encompassing public performance rights in sound recordings made prior to 1972. This ruling could influence the ruling of cases against Pandora, which does not compensate artists and labels for recordings pre-1972.
Chief executive of the Recording Industry Association of America commented on the issue by stating the following:
It’s increasingly clear that SiriusXM, Pandora and other digital music firms who refuse to pay legacy artists and rights holders are on the wrong side of history and the law. It’s time for that to change.