February 15, 2011

Plaintiff's Award Reduced In Wu-Tang Suit

Coles v Wu-Tang Prods., Inc., 2011 NY Slip Op 00789 (1st Dep't Feb. 10, 2011)

The appellate division modified the trial' court's award to plaintiff by 25% of the net royalty payments received by defendant Wu-Tang Productions.

The action was for the payment of royalties for musical compositions co-written by plaintiff. The Court found that the documentary evidence established that Wu-Tang was entitled to retain 25% of the net royalty payments it received from Careers-BMG Music Publishing, Inc. (BMG) before paying plaintiff his share. Pursuant to the agreement between plaintiff and Wu-Tang, plaintiff conveyed an undivided 50% percent interest in the copyrights in those compositions to Wu-Tang, and, with plaintiff's consent, Wu-Tang transferred 50% percent of its interest in the copyrights to BMG. Thus, Wu-Tang retained a 25% interest in the copyrights.

Additionally, the record supported the trial court's determination that plaintiff, as a lyricist of the compositions, and defendant producer of the music, regarded themselves as joint authors sharing equally in the ownership of a joint work. Thus, the court properly granted plaintiff leave to conform the complaint to the evidence presented at trial by adding a claim against the producer for his unauthorized receipt of a 50% producer's fee

February 14, 2011

Copyright Case Over Lil' Wayne Movie Dismissed

Crump v. QD3 Entertainment, Inc., 2011 WL 446296 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 8, 2011) (Jones, J.).

The lawsuit stems from the use of three copyrighted musical compositions in a documentary film entitled The Carter. The film focused on the life of Dwayne Carter, a hip hop and urban musical artist who is known by his stage name “Lil' Wayne.”

Defendants moved for summary judgment. As a procedural matter, the court focused on Plaintiff's failure: to oppose the filing of a motion for summary judgment pre-discovery, to file a Rule 56(f) affidavit, and to describe any potentially discoverable facts that make a motion for summary judgment premature.

In its legal analysis, the Court found that "the only issue is whether the agreement with another Young Money entity (Young Money Entertainment, Inc.) was sufficient to grant a nonexclusive license in the Defendants." The Court determined that the language of the subject agreement and uncontested facts clearly established that Defendants received a non-exclusive license to use any performance by Dwayne Carter of his copyrighted musical compositions, including “Pussy Monster,” “La La,” and “Lollipop.” In sum, Defendants met their burden of establishing that they received a grant of a nonexclusive license from Dwayne Carter and Young Money Publishing to use the three musical compositions at issue here in The Carter. The undisputed facts presented by both parties demonstrated that the clear intent of the parties was to grant the nonexclusive license. Summary judgment granted to Defendants.