September 30, 2010

Downloads Not Public Performances; Fees Must Be Recalculated

US v. American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, 09-0539-cv (L), NYLJ [web_id_#], at *1 (Court, Decided September 28, 2010) [LINK]

"This case presents two distinct questions that arise from the transmittal of musical works over the Internet: First, whether a download of a digital file containing a musical work constitutes a public performance of that musical work; and, second, whether the district court, acting in its capacity as the rate court, was reasonable in its assessment of the blanket license fees of Yahoo! Inc. and RealNetworks, Inc. (collectively, "the Internet Companies") to publicly perform any of the millions of musical compositions in the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers ("ASCAP") repertory.

For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the district court's ruling that a download of a musical work does not constitute a public performance of that work, but we vacate the district court's assessment of fees for the blanket ASCAP licenses sought by the Internet Companies and remand for further proceedings."

September 27, 2010

Bob Marley Recordings Are Works Made For Hire

Fifty-Six Hope Road Music Ltd. v. UMG Recordings, 08 CIV. 6143 (DLC), NYLJ 1202472502152, at *1 (SDNY, Decided September 10, 2010)

"This dispute concerns the ownership of the renewal term copyrights in certain pre-1978 sound recordings embodying the performances of Jamaican reggae artist, Bob Marley (the "Sound Recordings"). The Sound Recordings were created pursuant to exclusive recording agreements between Bob Marley and the predecessor-in-interest to defendant UMG Recordings, Inc. ("UMG"). The plaintiffs—Bob Marley's widow, Rita Marley, as well as nine of Bob Marley's children (together with Rita Marley, the "Adult Beneficiaries"), and their wholly-owned company, Fifty-Six Hope Road (collectively, the "Plaintiffs")—allege that the renewal term copyrights in the Sound Recordings reverted to them under the Copyright Act of 1909 upon Bob Marley's death in 1981. Plaintiffs also assert claims for underpayment of royalties against UMG. Plaintiffs and UMG have cross-moved for partial summary judgment. For the following reasons, UMG's motion is granted in part and Plaintiffs' motion is denied."

The Court analyzed Marley's recording agreements, distinguished a Copyright Act "author" from a common-dictionary-usage "author," and after considering various factors determined that Bob Marley's recordings are "works made for hire" under the Copyright Act of 1909.

The royalties claim concerns digital downloads - the Court found that contract ambiguities precluded summary judgment

$6.5mil Statutory Damages In Copyright Case

Arista Records LLC v. Usenet.Com, Inc., 07 Civ. 8822 (HB), NYLJ 1202472409489 (SDNY, Decided September 16, 2010)

"In this copyright infringement action, this Court previously granted Plaintiffs'2 motion for summary judgment in its entirety, granted Plaintiffs' motion for terminating sanctions in part, and dismissed Defendants'3 cross-motion for summary judgment as moot. See Arista Records, LLC v., Inc., 633 F. Supp. 2d 124, 129 (S.D.N.Y. 2009) (hereinafter the "Liability Decision"). The action was then referred to Magistrate Judge Theodore H. Katz for an inquest on damages. On February 2, 2010, Magistrate Judge Katz issued a detailed and articulate 23-page Report and Recommendation ("R&R"), in which he recommended that Defendants be held jointly and severally liable for statutory damages in the amount of $6,585,000. On February 15, 2010, Defendant Gerald Reynolds timely filed objections to Magistrate Judge Katz's R&R pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §636(b)(1) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72.4 For the following reasons, after considering Reynolds's objections, and reviewing the remainder of the R&R for clear error, this Court approves, adopts, and ratifies Magistrate Judge Katz's R&R in its entirety."