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Class action says Pandora failed to obtain rights to pre-1972 recordings

By Kyla Asbury | Oct 6, 2014

LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline) - Flo & Eddie are suing Pandora for allegedly failing to obtain the rights to pre-1972 recordings and causing owners of such recordings damages.

Flo & Eddie, a musical duo comprised of two original members of The Turtles, claims although Pandora readily acknowledges that to "secure the rights to stream music content over the internet, [it] must obtain licenses from, and pay royalties to, copyright owners of both sound recordings and musical works," it chose not to obtain licenses from one large category of copyright owners from owners of pre-1972 recordings, according to a complaint filed Oct. 2 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Pre-1972 recordings comprise the "historical backbone of the music industry," of which Pandora fully understands the value, according to the suit.

Flo & Eddie claim Pandora has chosen to copy tens of thousands of pre-1972 recordings to its servers and transmit and perform them via streaming to its millions of users on a daily basis without any authorization whatsoever.

"Pandora profits handsomely from its exploitation of pre-1972 recordings by charging subscription fees to its users and by selling advertisements," the complaint states.

Because Pandora has chosen to operate the music service without licenses for pre-1972 recordings, Pandora is now liable under California law for violations of civil codes, misappropriation, violation of California Business & Professions Code and conversion for its unauthorized reproduction, distribution and public performance of those recordings, according to the suit.

Flo & Eddie claim the music service is provided by Pandora to paying and non-paying members of the public in California and elsewhere and delivers and streams music through its website and to smartphones and tablets through its Android and iOS app.

"Among the sound recordings that Pandora publicly performs, reproduces and distributes are The Turtles' recordings," the complaint states.

Flo & Eddie is informed and believes that in order to populate the music service's database and in order to stream musical recordings to the public, Pandora has reproduced and copied and continues to reproduce and copy pre-1972 recordings.

"Pandora is aware that it does not have any license, right or authority to reproduce, perform, distribute or otherwise exploit via the music service any pre-1972 recordings," the complaint states. "Pandora is also aware which of the recordings it reproduces, performs, distributes or otherwise exploits via the musical service are pre-1972 recordings."

Not only does Pandora provide biographical information about each artist and the artwork for the albums containing the pre-1972 recordings that it is reproducing, performing, distributing or otherwise exploiting, but Pandora analyzes each individual song that it streams, according to the suit.

Flo & Eddie claims it is bringing the suit against Pandora on behalf of all other similarly situated owners of pre-1972 recordings.

Flo & Eddie is seeking class certification, compensatory damages in excess of $25 million for violations of California Business & Professions code, restitution and disgorgement of Pandora's unlawful proceeds and revenues in excess of $25 million and punitive damages. It is represented by Henry Gradstein, Maryann R. Marzano and Harvey W. Geller of Gradstein & Marzano PC.

The case has been assigned to District Judge Otis D. Wright II.

U.S. District Court for the Central District of California case number:

From Legal Newsline: Kyla Asbury can be reached at

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