Pre-1972 Tunes Could Still Hurt ‘CBS Radio’


A lawsuit filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals’ Ninth Circuit against a radio operator that no longer exists has been resuscitated, putting the airplay of pre-1972 songs into question once again for AM and FM stations.

The lawsuit is against CBS Radio. While the entity no longer exists and the stations involved are now owned by Entercom, it is CBS Corp. that is the party that remains involved.

What happened? According to LexisNexis’, the court overturned a novel ruling that declared “remastered” versions of old tracks to be entirely new copyrighted songs.

Ruling against CBS, the Ninth Circuit ruled that something simple as a technical improvement to pre-1972 songs didn’t “convert them” into newer songs covered by copyright law, the Associated Press reports.

The court’s ruling comes following a lower court in 2016 threw out the lawsuit, based on the remastering claim. “Pre-1972” songs are not covered by federal copyright law. Songs from acts including Al Green, The Everly Brothers and Jackie Wilson are involved.

The Ninth Circuit is known as the most liberal in the U.S. and is based in California.

“A digitally remastered sound recording made as a copy of the original analog sound recording will rarely exhibit the necessary originality to qualify for independent copyright protection,” Circuit Judge Richard Linn wrote for a 3-0 panel, Reuters reports.

The plaintiffs are ABS Entertainment Inc., Barnaby Records Inc., Brunswick Record Corp. and Malaco Inc.

The case is ABS Entertainment Inc et al v CBS Corp et al, 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 16-55917.