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Florida Supreme Court Rules in Favor of SiriusXM in Major Copyright Case


On October 26th, 2017, the Supreme Court of Florida released an extremely important copyright law decision. In the case of Flo & Eddie, Inc., etc. v. Sirius XM Radio, Inc., etc., Florida’s highest court ruled in favor of SiriusXM (the broadcaster), and against Flo & Eddie (the artist and potential copyright holder). The Florida Supreme Court found that state law does not require broadcasting companies to pay artists royalties for using their pre-1972 recordings. In this post, our Miami copyright litigation lawyers explain the implications of this latest court decision.

SiriusXM Reached a Settlement Over Pre-1972 Recordings Late Last Year 

In December of 2016, our copyright law team discussed this case. At that time, SiriusXM reached a nearly $100 million agreement in class action copyright litigation with a collection of artists. Originally, this dispute arose because pre-1972 recordings do not actually any have federal copyright protections. As a result, SiriusXM has simply been playing pre-1972 songs without paying any royalties whatsoever to the artists. However, what has become apparent in recent years is that while pre-1972 recordings lack any federal copyright protection, they do have common law copyright protections under state law, in many different jurisdictions. Most notably, in California, where a judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and against the broadcasting company in a similar claim.

The Value of the Settlement Will Now Be Reduced  

The decision by the Supreme Court of Florida is a significant setback for the plaintiffs in this copyright case. Indeed, the settlement was structured in a manner so that its value will be adjusted based off of the rulings that come from other individual states. As such, the fact that Florida’s Supreme Court has found that the common law does not offer any state level copyright protection for pre-1972 recordings reduced the potential value of the settlement.

According to the majority opinion of the Florida court, the state’s common law does not protect sound recordings. With this in mind, there is no way that Florida common law can possibly protect pre-1972 sound recordings. In the view of the court, there is no authority to make such a decision for the state, and it falls on state lawmakers to change the law to grant such a right if those legislators view such as policy to be necessary. Of course, federal copyright law stills protect post-1972 sound recordings in Florida.

Contact Our Florida Copyright Law Attorneys Today 

At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our top-rated copyright law attorneys have extensive experience handling complex copyright litigation case. If you need copyright law advice, please do not hesitate to contact us today to get immediate legal assistance. We are prepared to protect your rights.

We offer free, fully confidential initial consultations to all copyright law clients. From our offices in Miami and West Palm Beach, we handle copyright claims throughout Southeast Florida, including in Fort Lauderdale, Miami Beach, Homestead, Key Largo, Hialeah and Kendall.


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