The Central District of California Court ruled that sound recordings published prior to February 15, 1972 include a public performance right that may be infringed if permission is not secured before the sound recording is played on satellite radio.
Flo & Eddie of The Turtles sued SiriusXM in August 2013 for infringement of sound recording copyrights. SiriusXM pays royalties to Sound Exchange for sound recordings protected by federal copyright law. Sound recordings published prior to February 15, 1972 are protected by state law and not federal law. The case moves forward on other pending issues and there's little doubt defendant SiriusXM will appeal the summary judgement ruling against them.
This is a huge ruling for legacy sound recording copyright owners. While it might only apply to actions in California, as that's the state law that was interpreted, it means we are one step closer to legacy recordings being treated equally in respect to digital performances.
Support The Respect Act to secure federal copyright protection for Pre-72 Recordings.