Sirius XM Radio Inc. caters to listeners who love the oldies.
They have stations dedicated to the '40s, '50s and '60s. Stations that just play Elvis Presley or Frank Sinatra music.
Members of the 1960s band The Turtles figure their songs get played every hour of every day on the satellite network, and they want to get paid for it.
Following up on a similar suit they filed in California last month, two members of the mop-top band known for hits like "Happy Together" and "She'd Rather Be With Me" have filed a class action lawsuit in Miami federal court.
Turtles guitarist Mark Volman and vocalist Howard Kaylan hope they can capitalize on the state's statutory civil theft law, which opens the door to treble damages.
Volman and Kaylan, who also performed with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, filed the lawsuit under the name of their company, Flo & Eddie Inc., named for another of their musical personas.
The lawsuit seeks $100 million on behalf of all artists who fall under the protection from "unauthorized reproduction, performance, distribution or other exploitation" under Florida law on pre-1972 recordings.
Federal copyright law did not include protection for audio recordings until 1972. Previous recordings are governed by state laws.
The complaint assigned to U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore in Miami claims copyright violations, conversion, misappropriation and unfair competition.
Attorney Glen Waldman of Heller Waldman in Miami is co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs. He said prior to 1972 there wasn't a royalty agreement in place for recording artists, but radio stations have long paid to play those songs.
"It's been a tried-and-true method before you and I were even born," he said.
Sirius XM, though, has decided to forgo royalty payments, basically capitalizing on what it considers free content, Waldman said.
"This case has nationwide and international implications for the digital medium," he said. "It's extremely important. This is the livelihood for these people, and they are entitled to be paid."
He noted Napster had the same problem of not paying artists for content before it shut down.
New York-based Sirius XM is a satellite music service with more than 24 million subscribers. The company reported a record $3.4 billion in revenue in 2012.
Christopher J. Cox, a partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges in Redwood Shores, California, represents Sirius XM. He said he had not seen the new lawsuit and did not have a comment.
David D. Oxenford, a partner at Wilkinson Barker Knauer in Washington, has written on Broadcast Law Blog about the issues raised by the suits.
"If the Flo & Eddie suit were really alleging that there is a public performance right in pre-1972 sound recordings, then seemingly every restaurant, bar or stadium that plays the original hit versions of 'Good Vibrations,' 'Rock Around the Clock,' 'Johnny B. Goode,' 'The Twist' or the Turtles' 'Happy Together' could find themselves looking at potential liability for public performance of these sound recordings," he wrote Aug. 8 after the initial suit was filed in Los Angeles federal court.
The lawsuits filed by Flo & Eddie, he notes, seem focused on the reproduction of the songs offered by Sirius XM.
"We will have to see the response of Sirius to see if indeed they agree that reproductions are made and, if so, where they believe that the rights to make such copies have been obtained," Oxenford wrote. "The issues raised by the lawsuit demonstrate the complexity of music rights issues generally and the added complication raised by pre-1972 sound recordings."