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Oldies-but-Goodies Copyright Fight Heads to New York’s High Court

Are oldies-but-goodies freebies?

New York’s highest court is wading into the copyright dispute between the owner of The Turtles’ 1967 hit “Happy Together” and Sirius XM Radio

The New York Court of Appeals has agreed to hear a case about whether state common law created royalty obligations for satellite and Internet radio companies that play music made before 1972, reports the Associated Press.

While federal copyright law covers post-1972 recordings, Congress left it up to states to set their own copyright rules for music released before then.

In April, the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the question needed to be answered by the Court of Appeals in Albany. “This case presents a significant and unresolved issue of New York copyright law,” wrote Second Circuit Judge Guido Calabresi in the opinion.

The case is part of a broader, national copyright feud between so-called legacy artists artists and Internet radio companies such as Sirius and Pandora Media. The founders of the Turtles rock band have filed similar lawsuits in California and Florida, alleging copyright claims based on laws in those states. Those cases are before federal appeals courts.

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Mark Smith - Member/Partner

Mr. Smith is the founding member of SBL and started the practice in 1995. He brings to SBL his diverse intellectual property, business law, engineering, aerospace and private practice experience. He concentrates his practice in the areas of high technology law including the acquisition, auditing, licensing and enforcement of intellectual property rights, with particular emphasis on patent, trademark, and trade secret matters; business strategies; and the formation of high technology ventures. Mr. Smith has experience in civil litigation in both state and federal courts, including patent, trade secret and unfair competition litigation as well as federal litigation involving “cutting-edge” issues involving trademark use and the Internet . He also has experience in business litigation, mergers and acquisitions, including corporate acquisitions, corporate compliance matters, and general corporate law matters.

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