SiriusXM Agrees to Settlement of Up to $99 Million in Turtles Class Action Lawsuit

The Turtles
Dezo Hoffmann/REX/Shutterstock

SiriusXM has reached a settlement in a class action lawsuit brought by former members of the Turtles in which the satellite radio service will pay up to $99 million for the airplay of recordings made before 1972.

The terms of the settlement were included in a court filing in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Monday, and apply to owners of pre-1972 sound recordings played without their permission on SiriusXM between Aug. 1, 2009, and Nov. 14, 2016. It does not include major record labels, which have reached their own settlement with SiriusXM. The court had already certified the class.

Under the terms of the settlement, SiriusXM will pay up to $40 million, with members of the class guaranteed at least $25 million pending final approval. The settlement class is also eligible for up to $15 million if Flo & Eddie prevail in appeals of performance rights issues in California, New York, and Florida. The settlement also includes a 10-year license through Jan. 1, 2028, in exchange for cash royalty payments.

Those payments would be up to a 5.5% royalty rate for each class member’s pro rata share of SiriusXM’s defined gross revenue — but they would be reduced if the satellite service wins the appeals of performance rights issues. That potential payout for royalties has been estimated at between $45.5 million and $59.2 million, depending on SiriusXM’s growth.

Sound recordings did not fall under the scope of federal copyright until 1972, but owners of the songs have been seeking payment from SiriusXM and Pandora Media by citing state law protections. Flo & Eddie, a company that controls Turtles recordings, had filed a series of class action lawsuits.

The settlement still must be approved by the court. The New York Times first reported on its terms.

The trial in the case was scheduled to being this week. A hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 30 on preliminary approval of the settlement terms.

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