February 20, 2024

CBS wins fight over rights to play oldies

The Everly Brothers, Don and Phil, perform on July 31, 1964.  Photo: AP

The Everly Brothers, Don and Phil, perform on July 31, 1964. Photo: AP

By Amanda Bronstad, From The National Law Journal

CBS has amped up the fight over sound recordings made prior to 1972 with a rare win in California.
A federal judge in the Central District of California granted summary judgment on Monday in a case brought by four recording companies asserting rights over 174 sample song recordings, including “All I Have To Do Is Dream” by the Everly Brothers and Mahalia Jackson’s “Go Tell It on the Mountain.” The suit claims that CBS Corp. and CBS Radio Inc., which operates radio.com, have been illegally playing the song recordings without a license in violation of California law.
The ruling is the latest in the battle over who owns the rights to song recordings made prior the U.S. Copyright Act of 1972.
In his order, U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson found that many of the recordings at issue were remastered after 1972 and, therefore, subject to federal copyright law, which preempted the state law claims in the case.
“We are pleased that the court has ruled that the broadcast of pre-1972 sound recordings that have been remastered after 1972 is governed by federal copyright law rather than state law, especially when original expression has been added during the remastering process,” said CBS attorney Robert Schwartz, a partner at Los Angeles-based Irell & Manella, in a prepared statement.
Plaintiffs lawyer Robert Allen, a principal at McKool Smith in Los Angeles, did not respond to a request for comment.
The ruling is the latest turn of events in litigation spawned when Flo & Eddie Inc., a company owned by two of the founding members of the 1960s rock group The Turtles, began suing Sirius XM Radio Inc., Pandora Media Inc. and iHeartMedia Inc. over unpaid royalties.
In Flo & Eddie’s case against Sirius, U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez found in 2014 that California law protected public performance rights for songs recorded prior to 1972. In New York, U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon rejected a summary judgment motion in 2014 brought by Sirius, which has appealed.
But last year, U.S. District Judge Darrin Gayles of the Southern District of Florida granted summary judgment to Sirius in a Flo & Eddie case addressing Florida law.
ABS Entertainment Inc. filed the case against CBS on Aug. 17. The case, which was never certified as a class action, was amended to include Barnaby Records, Brunswick Record Corp. and Malaco as name plaintiffs.
CBS has filed a summary judgment motion in another case brought by ABS and the three other plaintiffs in the Southern District of New York. The same plaintiffs also have suits pending against iHeartMedia and Cumulus Media.
The Everly Brothers, Don and Phil, perform on July 31, 1964.
Photo: AP

For more on this story go to: http://www.nationallawjournal.com/id=1202759076693/CBS-Wins-Fight-Over-Rights-to-Play-Oldies#ixzz4AQoUxarl

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