In an extensive opinion by Judge Stein, with a concurrence and a two-judge dissent, the Court of Appeals determined the owner of master recordings of songs by the band “The Turtles” did not have a state common-law copyright interest in the public performance of pre-1972 recordings (i.e., recordings broadcast by radio stations). A federal law controls post-1972 recordings:
… [C]ommon sense supports the explanation … that the record companies and artists had a symbiotic relationship with radio stations, and wanted them to play their records to encourage name recognition and corresponding album sales … . … [T]he Federal Copyright Office explicitly recognized the technological advances affecting the interests of the various participants in the music industry as early as 1991 … . Nevertheless, those participants have co-existed for many years and, until now, were apparently “happy together.” While changing technology may have rendered it more challenging for the record companies and performing artists to profit from the sale of recordings, these changes, alone, do not now warrant the precipitous creation of a common-law right that has not previously existed.
Simply stated, New York’s common-law copyright has never recognized a right of public performance for pre-1972 sound recordings. Because the consequences of doing so could be extensive and far-reaching, and there are many competing interests at stake, which we are not equipped to address, we decline to create such a right for the first time now. … Under these circumstances, the recognition of such a right should be left to the legislature. Flo & Eddie, Inc. v Sirius XM Radio, Inc., 2016 NY Slip Op 08480, CtApp 12-20-16
COPYRIGHT (NO STATE COMMON LAW COPYRIGHT PROTECTION FOR PRE-1972 RECORDINGS PLAYED BY RADIO STATIONS)/SOUND RECORDINGS (NO STATE COMMON LAW COPYRIGHT PROTECTION FOR PRE-1972 RECORDINGS PLAYED BY RADIO STATIONS)/RADIO STATIONS COMMON LAW COPYRIGHT PROTECTION FOR PRE-1972 RECORDINGS PLAYED BY RADIO STATIONS)/PUBLIC PERFORMANCE, RIGHT OF (NO STATE COMMON LAW COPYRIGHT PROTECTION FOR PRE-1972 RECORDINGS PLAYED BY RADIO STATIONS)