As we’ve written about before, there’s been a bit of controversy regarding the right to use pre-1972 song recordings on streaming services. It’s a struggle to determine who the rights actually belong to since songs that were released before 1972 aren’t covered by an overarching federal law – and instead depend on a handful of state laws for copyright protection. We’ve been waiting for a ruling in one of these lawsuits to help determine how the rest will go and now, SiriusXM has agreed to settle one such case.
So, What’s Happening with the Settlement?
Sirius is set to pay $99 million to musicians who have their pre-1972 recordings on Sirius – allegedly without their consent. The frontrunner in the suit is the 60s band The Turtles. You’ve probably shamelessly sang some of their songs before – I can’t see me lovin’ nobody but you, for all my liiiife! Yeah, those guys. Anyway, The Turtles and fellow artists can look forward to receiving as much as $40 million in past royalties and up to $59 million in future payments for use of their songs.
That’s great! So the rest of the lawsuits should be wrapping up nicely, right?
Why the Conclusion Doesn’t Answer Anyone’s Questions
Unless your question is “Isn’t there a simple solution to this?” (that would be a resounding “no”) or “Does anyone really know what’s going on here?” (also no), then you’re in the same boat as the rest of us – still having no clue as to how these cases will be decided.
Here’s why Sirius’s settlement doesn’t help us get to the bottom of this one.
First of all, Sirius only settled the lawsuit filed in California. The company’s still facing legal battles in other states over the exact same pre-1972 song arguments. So, the fight isn’t over for Sirius, even though this case was settled. All in all, the company simply wanted to avoid paying for further litigation. I mean, the lawsuit was originally filed in 2013 and since there was no end in sight, you can’t really blame them.
Then there’s the fact that, because there wasn’t a trial, this case doesn’t shed any light on whether or not streaming services should be paying artists for using songs not covered by federal copyright law – the central issue in all of these suits.
So, it may still be a while until we see a solid conclusion to these types of lawsuits. Once a court gives a ruling (especially the first of its kind), it tends to become the basis for how similar, future cases will be decided. In short, the Sirius settlement didn’t actually settle anything. Seriously.
I don’t know about you, but this only thing this settlement means for me is that I have Happy Together stuck in my head for an afternoon.