UMG Recordings, Inc. v. Escape Media Group, Inc., No. 100152/2010 (Sup. Ct., N.Y. Co. July 10, 2012) (Kapnick, J.S.C.).
New York State Court holds that the "safe harbor" provisions of the DMCA extend to common law copyright claims relating to pre-1972 recordings.
Plaintiff moved to dismiss defendant's "safe harbor" affirmative defense under the DMCA [17 U.S.C. 512(c)(1)]. Section 301(c) of the Copyright Act makes clear that the copyrights of pre-1972 recordings are not protected by the federal Copyright Act, and the Court analyzed whether the DMCA may provide a defense or "safe harbor" to internet service providers facing New York State common law copyright infringement claims (as opposed to claims under the federal act). The Court observed that only one court has considered the issue (Capitol Records, Inc. v. MP3Tunes, 821 F. Supp.2d 627, 640 (SDNY 2011), and concluded that "there is no indication in the text of the DMCA that Congress intended to limit the reach of the safe harbors provided by the statute to just post-1972 recordings." In response to a report by the Register of Copyrights that "it is for the Courts to interpret the applicable statute and decide the issues raise by this motion. This Court is not attempting to extend the Copyright Act to pre-1972 recordings, but, nonetheless, does find, based on the relevant language of the statutes...that the safe harbor provisions codified by section 512(c)(1) of the DMCA is applicable to pre-1972 recordings." Accordingly, plaintiff's motion to dismiss the DMCA affirmative defense was denied.
However, the Court did dismiss defendant's affirmative defense based on the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (the "CDA") [47 U.S.C. 230]. Lastly, the Court dismissed defendant's counter-claim for violation of a New York State anti-trust statute, the "Donnelly Act" (NY General Business Law 340), but denied plaintiff's motion to dismiss the counter-claims for tortious interference with contract and business relations.