I am pleased to post our February 23, 2015 New York Law Journal Copyright Law Column on the latest developments in the New York branch of three pending cases concerning the claims of Flo & Eddie that, as the copyright proprietors of the Turtles’ 1967 hit recording of “Happy Together,” they enjoy exclusive rights under state law in its public performance. Although, pursuant to a 1972 amendment to the U.S. Copyright Act, sound recording copyrights came under exclusive federal protection, pre-1972 recordings remain governed by state law.
As discussed in the article, the question whether New York recognizes a public performance right in pre-1972 sound recordings may be certified by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to the New York Court of Appeals. Any such decision would have a huge impact on the recording industry and the various ways in which pre-1972 sound recordings are broadcast, both over the internet and by AM/FM stations.