Key Harrington Barnes, PC

Class action lawsuit against Sirius XM to go forward

Texas music fans may be interested to learn that on May 27, a judge ruled that a class action lawsuit against the satellite radio company Sirius XM could go forward. The lawsuit deals with songs recorded prior to Feb. 15, 1972 that Sirius XM has not paid royalties for because those songs are not protected under existing federal copyright laws.

The plaintiff in the lawsuit is a company controlled by two of the founding members of the band The Turtles, known for their many popular 1960s songs including "Happy Together." Certifying a class action means that other artists can be brought into the lawsuit as well.

The situation may have implications for Pandora in addition to Sirius XM, and several other lawsuits exist against both companies in Florida and New York. Some states have separate laws that do protect artists in these types of situations, and some artists have successfully obtained copyright protection under those laws despite the lack of federal coverage.

Laws involving copyrights and other forms of intellectual property are complex, and individuals or businesses who feel that their ownership rights have been infringed upon may wish to consult an attorney to determine if there is any available recourse. A business may wish to build in several safeguards to protect its trade secrets, and an attorney may be able to help with the preparation of appropriate agreements. However, those trade secrets might still be vulnerable. For example, an employee might go to a competitor and share certain processes with them. An attorney might be able to assist in filing a lawsuit in such a case.

Source: Reuters, "Sirius XM to face class action in Turtles copyright suit," Andrew Chung, May 27, 2015

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