This case involves the extent of the ownership rights to pre-1972 sound recordings and the relationship between state and federal copyright law. The Turtles musical group recorded the 1960’s hit “Happy Together,” as well as a number of other hit songs. Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, two of The Turtles founding members, created and own Flo & Eddie, Inc. Flo & Eddie in turn owns all rights to The Turtles’ master sound recordings. Although Flo & Eddie has licensed The Turtles songs for use in movies, TV shows and commercials, Flo & Eddie has never licensed its public performance rights in the songs to a digital radio station or any other radio station.
Sirius XM runs nationwide satellite radio and Internet radio subscription services. Sirius XM publicly performed 15 separate sound recordings exclusively owned by Flo & Eddie. Flo & Eddie did not license these songs to Sirius XM and Sirius XM publicly performs the songs without paying royalties to Flo & Eddie.