Copyright Ruling in Cal. Could Be Trouble for Oldies Statns

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Copyright Ruling in Cal. Could Be Trouble for Oldies Statns

Postby AnotherBCRadioFan » Fri Oct 31, 2014 7:58 am

http://reason.com/blog/2014/09/24/a-cop ... ia-could-s

If you live in California and listen to oldies radio, don't be surprised if your favorite station suddenly decides to change its format. Thanks to a court decision that came down this week, it might become a lot costlier for stations in that state to play music made before 1972.

The plaintiffs in the case are the Turtles, a '60s band best known for the song "Happy Together." (More precisely, the plaintiffs are Flo & Eddie, a successor act with a litigious history. They own the rights to the Turtles' name and recordings.) The defendant is the satellite-radio megalith SiriusXM. In a nutshell, Flo & Eddie argue that the broadcaster violated their rights each time it transmitted a Turtles record without their consent.

This is where things get complicated. There is a difference between owning the rights to a song and owning the rights to a recording. (Bob Dylan owns the song "It Ain't Me Babe"; Flo & Eddie own the Turtles' recording of it.) If you own a song, you're entitled to a fee when it is played on the air. If you own a recording, the situation is more complex. You don't get royalties when the record is played on AM or FM radio. You do get royalties when it's played on Internet radio, for reasons related to fears of piracy. Because of the way the law defines "digital transmission," satellite stations have to pay those digital fees too.

But federal copyright protection didn't apply to sound recordings before February 15, 1972. SiriusXM takes the position that this means it doesn't have to pay when it airs music recorded before then. (That covers pretty much everything by the Turtles.) But the Copyright Act of 1976 says the states can still set the rules for those pre-1972 rights. And under California law, copyright holders have "exclusive ownership" to those recordings until 2047. Flo & Eddie argued that this gives them considerable control over what could be done with those old Turtles records. In this week's decision, U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez agreed.

"Exclusive ownership," Gutierrez reasoned, means "the right to use and possess the recording to the exclusion of others." California's law, unlike the federal law, puts only one limit on this control: The rightsholder may not prevent someone from recording a remake. Since this is the only exception specified, the judge concluded that no other exemptions were intended. He therefore issued a summary judgment for Flo & Eddie on the parts of its suit related to SiriusXM's broadcasts. (Some other aspects of the case are still to be decided.) The ruling did not determine the damages, but SiriusXM may owe millions now not just to Flo & Eddie but to countless other owners of pre-'72 copyrights.

SiriusXM is likely to appeal the ruling. In the meantime, Flo & Eddie have filed similar suits in New York and Florida. Other copyright holders, including the major record labels, have launched lawsuits of their own.

Most media coverage of Gutierrez's decision has stressed the impact it will have on SiriusXM and on Internet services such as Pandora. But the case could conceivably threaten any ordinary AM oldies outlet that operates in California. The decision doesn't explicitly say AM and FM stations have to pay these fees, and you can expect broadcasters' lawyers to claim that this means they're off the hook. But the judge's whole argument is based on the idea that there are no exceptions to the copyright holder's rights save the single item spelled out in the state's statute. That suggests that radio stations—and, for that matter, restaurants and bars that play recorded music—will have to either start paying steep fees to play pre-'72 music or just take the easy road and play something recorded more recently. (I asked Dennis Wharton, a VP at the National Association of Broadcasters, if his group had any comment on the decision. He replied that they were still reviewing it.)

For years, the record industry has been trying to get Congress to make analog broadcasters cough up the extra fees that digital broadcasters have to pay. It may have just gotten what it wanted through the back door, but only for records that are more than 42 years old, and only in California. Watch for some bizarre distortions in the radio marketplace.
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Re: Copyright Ruling in Cal. Could Be Trouble for Oldies Sta

Postby Tom Jeffries » Fri Oct 31, 2014 6:01 pm

All this will do is cut the revenue stream for the oldie artists!

They are already being marginalized - and now for sure they will get buried.

The royalties will stop because NO ONE will play the material.

STOOPID.
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Re: Copyright Ruling in Cal. Could Be Trouble for Oldies Sta

Postby pave » Sat Nov 01, 2014 7:01 am

This really is a ridiculous irony.
A station lays its life on the line with a choice of music format.
It then makes itself utterly dependent on the music by culling the other elements (personalities) that could be maintaining listening.
Now, it puts up pitiful whines because the (almost) only element they offer their audiences comes with a price tag.
Other business people who manufacture or supply products and/or services have to deal with the cost of materials.
Enough of the snivelling already.

Are radio station ownerships and management so clueless they can't appreciate an obvious "money demo" and then, pull together the resources that would allow that demo to be exploited?
Apparently not.
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Re: Copyright Ruling in Cal. Could Be Trouble for Oldies Sta

Postby Tape Splicer » Sat Nov 01, 2014 10:44 am

A question or two for the "legal eagles" in the crowd...
How might this battle and decision impact stations outside the U.S. that play the oldies?
Could this fight come to Canada, the UK, Australia or New Zealand for example?
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Re: Copyright Ruling in Cal. Could Be Trouble for Oldies Sta

Postby Tape Splicer » Sat Nov 01, 2014 11:33 am

Consider also oldies that were translated into other languages and sung by artists in those countries.... Dutch, German, Italian etc. Then there are artists that record their songs in other languages - Neil Sadaka recorded in Italian, Elvis recorded in German - and I would not be surprised to find that other '50's and early '60's artists did the same in order to break into those international markets.
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Re: Copyright Ruling in Cal. Could Be Trouble for Oldies Sta

Postby pave » Sat Nov 01, 2014 11:44 am

Speaking of which...
Here's one from the Lads I just heard for the first time.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unR3lWTQB5I
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Re: Copyright Ruling in Cal. Could Be Trouble for Oldies Sta

Postby jon » Sat Nov 01, 2014 12:11 pm

That was a Top 10 hit on CFUN in July 1964. Some kids in my grade at Second Street Elementary School in East Burnaby even performed it on stage at the school at the time.
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Re: Copyright Ruling in Cal. Could Be Trouble for Oldies Sta

Postby Tape Splicer » Sat Nov 01, 2014 2:45 pm

Here are two of Neil Sedaka's songs in Italian and english ... (The second link in each group of two is the song in english);
Breaking Up Is Hard To Do (Tu non lo sai)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WWubI_OSyA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbad22CKlB4
Little Devil (ESAGERATA )
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-J0R62a4Q4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18DRMnmUz2s
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