$25 Million Award & Counting in Royalties Against Sirius Radio

LOS ANGELES (CN) — A federal judge this week approved a $25.5 million class action settlement against Sirius XM Radio, to resolve claims over millions of dollars in royalties for broadcasting songs recorded before 1972, and said the final settlement could rise to $73 million.

The Turtles members Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan, suing as Flo & Eddie Inc., demanded $100 million from Sirius in their August 2013 complaint. They filed similar lawsuits in federal courts in New York and Florida, saying the satellite radio service had broadcast their recordings, including “Happy Together,” “It Ain’t Me, Babe” and “She’d Rather Be With Me,” without compensating them. They sought damages for misappropriation, unfair competition and conversion.

In September 2014 U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez ruled that the owners of the recordings held an exclusive performance right.

“Prior to this ruling, no court had ever expressly recognized such a right,” Gutierrez wrote this week in a Monday order.

Gutierrez approved a settlement of $25 million for past performances, in addition to $10 million pending outcomes in California and Florida appeals, and a $500,000 fee for administering the funds. Under a 10-year licensing agreement with Sirius, the class is entitled to a royalty rate of up to 3.5 percent.

“According to plaintiffs’ expert, the 3.5 percent licensing royalty could generate between $28.94 million [and] $37.68 million in additional cash payments to the settlement class over the next 10 years, depending on defendant’s annual revenue growth,” Gutierrez wrote.

Depending on the outcome of the cases in Florida and New York, Gutierrez said, the final settlement could be as high as $73 million.

He called the settlement “reasonable in light of the significant legal and procedural challenges, including the vigorously contested scope of damages, associated with continued litigation in this case.”

The court also approved the plaintiffs’ attorneys’ request for 30 percent of the total settlement in fees and $1.68 million in costs, and awarded the principals of Flo & Eddie Inc. $25,000 each.

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