Plaintiff is the owner of the record label Tuff City Music Group and owns the rights to thousands of musical recordings and compositions. In September 2006, TufAmerica licensed defendant's predecssor the right to market a large number of musical tracks by way of digital downloads (the “License”). The License obligated defendant's predecessor to pay TufAmerica various types of payments in exchange for digital distribution rights to hundreds of songs. In late 2007, defendant assumed its predecessor's obligations under the License. While TufAmerica received various payments from Digital and Orchard, it never received any payment of mechanical royalties.
Defendant argued that the License preempted plaintiff's copyright case. The Court agreed:
TufAmerica fails to state a facially plausible claim under the Copyright Act because it concedes that its copyright claim is governed by the License, not the Copyright Act. While TufAmerica subsequently argues that the License does not govern mechanical royalties, a “claim for relief ‘may not be amended by the briefs in opposition to a motion to dismiss.’” As a result, Orchard’s motion to dismiss is granted.
Because TufAmerica’s claim under the Copyright Act was dismissed, the court lacked pendent jurisdiction over the New York State common law claim of unjust enrichment.
However, because the License did not unambiguously preempt a claim under the Copyright Act's compulsory license provision, leave to amend the Complaint was granted.