December 16, 2013

EMI and Sony Permitted To Intervene In ASCAP/Pandora Rate Court Matter

In re Petition of Pandora Media, Inc. [related to US v. ASCAP]; No. 1941-cv-01395 (S.D.N.Y. filed Dec.13, 2013) [Doc. 733].

EMI and Sony moved to intervene in the Pandora rate-court proceeding (ASCAP) after the Court's summary judgment opinion issued on September 17, 2013 in which the Court held that the Second Amended Final Judgment ("AFJ2") prevented ASCAP from withholding from Pandora the rights to compositions in its repertory while licensing those compositions to other users. In re Pandora Media, Inc., 12 Civ. 8035 (DLC), 2013 WL 5211927 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 17, 2013) (“September 17 Opinion”). The summary judgment practice was precipitated by putative publisher partial withdrawals of rights from ASCAP.

The Court analyzed Rule 24 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.  It considered whether the publishers' motion to intervene was timely (mixed finding), and whether the publishers possess an interest related to the subject of the action (yes).  Ultimately, the Court granted the motion to intervene on the condition that the Publishers "may not raise new arguments on appeal that were not raised by ASCAP, with the exception of the Section 106 of the Copyright Act argument".

December 5, 2013

Transfer Denied In Sirius Class Action Over Pre-72 Recordings

Flo & Eddie, Inc. v. Sirius XM Radio Inc., No. CV 13-5693 PSG (C.D. Cal. Dec. 3, 2013).

Plaintiff filed this putative class action in state court alleging that defendant Sirius XM had unlawfully exploited certain audio recordings made before February 15, 1972 by duplicating and broadcasting those audio recordings through its satellite and internet radio service.  Sirius XM removed this case to federal court.  Before the Court was Sirius XM's motion to transfer venue to the Southern District of New York, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a).  The Court denied the motion.

In analyzing the motion, the court considered multiple factors -- some neutral, some favoring transfer, and some against transfer.  The factors were: Jurisdiction and Venue in the Southern District of New York; Convenience of the Parties and Party Witnesses; Convenience of Third Party Witnesses and the Availability of Compulsory Process; Relevant Agreements; Familiarity with the Governing Law; Plaintiff’s Choice of Forum; The Parties’ Contacts with the Chosen Forum; Contacts Relating to Plaintiff’s Causes of Action in the Chosen Forum; Differences in the Cost of Litigation; Access to Sources of Proof; Relevant Policy of the Forum State; Relative Court Congestion; Local Interest in Having Localized Controversies Decided at Home; Unfairness of Burdening Citizens in an Unrelated Forum; and The Interest of Justice. After considering these factors, the Court concluded that transfer was not warranted.  "Many of the transfer factors are neutral. As to the factors that carry weight one way or the other, several factors related to efficiency and convenience weigh toward transfer.  However, California’s interest in having a novel question of state law decided at home, as well as the slight weight given to Plaintiff’s choice of forum, weighs against transfer."

December 4, 2013

Country Music Infringement Claim Survives Dismissal

Bowen v. Paisley et al., No. 3:13-cv-0414 (M.D. Tenn. filed Dec. 3, 2013) [Doc. 58]

Plaintiff alleged that the defendants, including popular country music singers Brad Paisley and Carrie
Underwood, violated her copyright interests in the song “Remind Me,” a song that plaintiff
copyrighted and recorded.  Defendants moved to dismiss.  The Court denied defendant's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, finding that under the Iqbal standard, plaintiff had plausibly shown that, taken in combination, her lyrics and associated melodies, intonations, and usage could be sufficiently original to constitute protectable material, and that based on the Court's own comparison of the two works that defendants' hooks which incorporate that potentially distinctive combination of elements, are “substantially similar”.

December 3, 2013

9th Circuit Reverses "Platters" Injunction Because No Presumption Of Irreparable Harm In Trademark Cases

Herb Reed Enterprises v. Florida Entertainment, No. 12-16868 (9th Cir. Dec. 2, 2013) [Decision].

The 9th Circuit reversed the district court’s grant of a preliminary injunction against defendants’ use of the mark “The Platters” in connection with a vocal group, holding that the likelihood of irreparable harm must be established, rather than presumed, by a plaintiff seeking injunctive relief in the trademark context, and that the record did not support a determination of the likelihood of irreparable harm.  Likelihood of success can not be collapsed into irreparable harm.  The 9th Circuit also found (affirming the district court) that: (i) earlier New York actions did not have res judicata effect -- there was no claim or issue preclusion; (ii) the claim was not barred by laches; (iii) Plaintiff had not abandoned the trademark.

Aimee Mann Copyright Claim Survives Dismissal Based On Terminated License

Aimee Mann v. MediaNet Digital, Inc., et al., No. 2:13-cv-05269 (C.D. Cal. filed 11/27/13) [Doc. 26].

Plaintiff Aimee Mann (“Mann”), a songwriter and recording artist, brought this copyright infringement action against Defendant MediaNet Digital, Inc. (“MediaNet”), f/k/a MusicNet, a distributor of streaming music, online radio, and music downloads to companies like Songza, Stub Hub, Soundtracker, MTV, Yahoo Music, and Time Warner Cable (among others).  MediaNet moved to dismiss the copyright claims and Plaintiff's claim for rescission of a license agreement.  The Court denied the motion to dismiss the copyright claims, but dismissed the rescission claim with leave to replead.

On the copyright claims, MediaNet argued that Mann’s claim for direct infringement should be dismissed because: (i) MediaNet had a valid license at all relevant times and therefore cannot be liable for copyright
infringement, and (ii) the License Agreement was not terminated on December 4, 2006 as a matter of
law.  The Court found that MediaNet did not have a statutory compulsory license (17 U.S.C. 115).  The Court also found that the 2003 License Agreement was no longer in effect.  Relying on New York General Obligations Law § 5-903, Mann asserted that because MediaNet failed to alert her to the existence of the auto-renewal provision, the License Agreement was not automatically renewed after its initial term ended on December 4, 2006.  The Court agreed that the auto-renewal of the License Agreement is unenforceable under § 5-903. As such, Mann’s allegation that MediaNet exploited her pre-December 5, 2003 and post-December 4, 2006 compositions after the initial term of the License Agreement stated a claim for copyright infringement.  The Court further found that Mann had stated claims for secondary copyright liability (contributory, inducing and vicarious liability).

However, Mann's claim for rescission was dismissed with leave to replead.  The Court found rescission is an equitable remedy and that that Mann had failed to explain why the non-payment of royalties could not be adequately remedied by monetary damages. "This failure is fatal to her rescission claim."

November 19, 2013

Madonna's "Vogue" Does Not Infringe Horn-Hit

VMG Salsoul, LLC v. Madonna Louise Ciccone, et al., No. 12-cv-05967 (C.D. Cal. filed 11/18/2013) [Doc. 116].

Plaintiff alleges copyright infringement for the appropriation of a single horn stab (“Horn Hit”) from Plaintiff’s work, Love Break. The Horn Hit is a single chord that is played eleven times in Defendants’ work, Vogue. The Court found that neither the chord nor the Horn Hit sound sufficiently original to merit copyright protection. Even if the alleged appropriation was subject to copyright protection, the Court found that any copying was de minimis.  Accordingly, defendants were granted summary judgment.

The Court recognized that while a valid certificate of registration with the copyright office entitles Plaintiff to
a presumption of originality, Defendants may overcome this presumption by demonstrating that the Horn Hit is not original.  The Court then concluded that, as a matter of law, the Horn Hit is not sufficiently original to merit copyright protection.  "The Horn Hit is not a component of the 'hook' in Plaintiff’s Love Break nor is it accompanied by a lyric. As a result, the Court finds that this single chord is not sufficiently original to merit copyright protection".

The Court further found that even if the alleged appropriation was subject to copyright protection, Defendants’ use was de minimis.  "Having listened to the sound recordings of Chicago Bus Stop, Love Break, and Vogue, the Court finds that no reasonable audience would find the sampled portions qualitatively or quantitatively significant in relation to the infringing work, nor would they recognize the appropriation. The Court finds that any sampling of the Horn Hit was de minimis or trivial."  Lastly, there was also evidence of independent creation.

November 12, 2013

NMPA Take Down Notices Sent To Lyric Sites

Billboard reports that the National Music Publishers Association ("NMPA") has sent take-down notices to 50 commercial lyric sites operating without licenses.  The article highlights the site RapGenius.  The article further reports that David Israelite, Chief Executive of the NMPA, said that the take-down notices are a precursor to the filing of lawsuits against the unlicensed sites for copyright infringement.

November 5, 2013

Monster's 3rd Party Claims Against DJ Dismissed In Beastie Boys Case

Beastie Boys v. Monster, No. 12-cv-6065 (S.D.N.Y. filed Nov. 4, 2013) [Doc. 51].

The Beastie Boys sued Monster Energy drinks under Lanham Act for the allegedly unauthorized publication of a promotional video that used as its soundtrack a remix including songs originally composed and recorded by the Beastie Boys.  Monster brought third-party claims for breach of contract and fraud against a DJ, who originally made the remix (with the Beastie Boys' permission) and furnished it to Monster.  After discovery, the Court granted the DJ summary judgment dismissing the third-party claims.

First, the Court found that there was no binding agreement between the DJ and Monster.  "...[A] reasonable
juror could not find an offer, sufficiently clear acceptance, or consideration, e.g., a legal duty which Monster incurred to Z-Trip, let alone all three."  Second, the Court found that there was no fraud.

"In sum, if Monster is liable to the Beastie Boys, it may not shift legal responsibility for such lapses to Z-Trip.  Any such liability on Monster’s part would arise instead because Monster left these matters in the hands of an employee insensitive to the legal issues presented by making derivative use of, and commercially exploiting, the Beastie Boys’ original work. In musical terms, Z-Trip can now, therefore, rest at least “as cool as a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce,” because Monster’s Third-Party Complaint against him has “got the rhyme and reason but no cause.” Beastie Boys, So Watcha Want (Capitol Records 1992). It is therefore dismissed, with prejudice."

The Court, in a separate order, further urged the parties to settle the case rather than to go to trial.  [Doc. 53].

November 1, 2013

6th Cir. Affirms Dismissal Of "Soul Men" TM Case

Moore v. Weinstein Co. et al., No. 12-5715 (6th Cir. filed Oct. 31, 2013) (decision here).

Plaintiff, Sam Moore of the group "Sam & Dave", appealed an adverse judgment on his trademark infringement and common law claims against the producers and distributors of a 2008 movie called "Soul Men" (starring Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mac) and its soundtrack.  The 6th Circuit affirmed dismissal.

Plaintiff argued that defendants had violated his right of publicity.  The Court disagreed, finding that the movie "added significant expressive elements to any purported use of Moore's identity."

Plaintiff also argued that defendants had committed trademark dilution under the Tennessee Trademark Act, of the mark SOUL MEN.  But, Plaintiff failed to provide evidence of the mark's fame.

Accordingly, the 6th Circuit affirmed summary judgment for defendants.

October 24, 2013

Some Claims Time-Barred In "Happy Birthday" Suit

Good Morning To You Productions et al. v. Warner-Chappell Music, No. 2:13-cv-04460 (C.D. Cal. filed 10/16/13) [Doc. 71].

Plaintiffs seek a declaration, pursuant to the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201, that Defendants do not own the copyright to or possess the exclusive right to demand licensing fees for the use of Happy Birthday to You (the “Song”), and that the Song is in the public domain. In Claim Two, they seek relief based upon the entry of declaratory judgment,pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2202, including an injunction, restitution, and an accounting of Defendants’ monetary benefits obtained from Plaintiffs in connection with their claim of ownership of the Song.

Defendants moved to dismiss, and the Court granted the motion to the extent of dismissing those claims that fall outside the Copyright Act's 3-year statute of limitations (with leave to amend).  "Because Plaintiffs’ declaratory judgment and relief claims are 'civil action[s] maintained under the provisions' of the Copyright Act, they are subject to § 507(b)’s three-year statute of limitations."

October 23, 2013

Airline Sued Over In-Flight Music Videos

Arista Music et al. v. United Airlines Inc. et al., No. 13-cv-7451 (S.D.N.Y. filed Oct. 22, 2013).

Plaintiffs are multiple record labels suing United Airlines for alleged copyright infringement.  Plaintiffs allege that United is transmitting performances of the Plaintiff's music videos and sound recordings, without Plaintiffs' authorization, to airline passengers for in-flight entertainment.

October 17, 2013

Suit Filed Over Beatles Movie

Ace Arts LLC v. Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC et al.; No. 13-cv-7307 (S.D.N.Y. filed Oct. 16, 2013).

The Beatles' music publisher and record company were sued in connection with plaintiff's contract to distribute a film, The Beatles: The Lost Concert, which documents the impact the Beatles had in the USA and their first concert in Washington DC in 1964.  Plaintiff claims $100 million in damages for alleged violation of the Sherman Act, tortious interference with contract, interference with prospective economic relations, unfair competition, and violation of the N.Y. General Business Law.

October 10, 2013

Pre-1972 Safe Harbor Issue Will Not Be Heard By NY's Highest Court

UMG Recordings v. Escape Media Group, 2013 NY Slip Op 87510(U) (1st Dep't Oct. 8, 2013).

The New York Appellate Division, First Department, denied defendants' motion for leave to appeal the Court's decision concerning pre-1972 sound recordings to the New York Court of Appeals, New York's highest court.

October 1, 2013

Band Refused Trademark Registration For Name "The Slants"

In re Simon Shiao Tam, Serial No. 85472044 (TTAB Sep. 26, 2013).

A band sought to register its name "The Slants" with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.  Registration was refused under Section 2(a) of the Trademark Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1052(a), on the ground that applicant’s mark “consists of or includes matter which may disparage or bring into contempt or disrepute persons, institutions, beliefs or national symbols under Trademark Act Section 2(a).”  The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) affirmed the examining attorney's refusal to register.

The TTAB found, "Thus, it is abundantly clear from the record not only that THE SLANTS, used for the identified services, would have the 'likely meaning' of people of Asian descent but also that such meaning has been so perceived and has prompted significant responses by prospective attendees or hosts of the band’s performances. The evidence of public perception of the meaning of THE SLANTS, as used in connection with applicant’s services, shows that meaning to be a derogatory reference to people of Asian descent."  The TTAB also rejected the applicant's argument that it had "good intentions" (e.g., taking ownership of a disparaging term): "the fact that applicant has good intentions with its use of the term does not obviate the fact that a substantial composite of the referenced group find the term objectionable".  Lastly, the TTAB found that the record established that the slang term “slant” or its plural “slants,” when used to indicate
ethnicity, is disparaging to a substantial composite of the referenced group.

September 27, 2013

Musicians Considered "Employees" For Tax Purposes

Matter of Columbia Artists Management LLC (Commissioner of Labor), 2013 NY Slip Op 06043 (3d Dep't Sep. 26, 2013).

A New York appellate court held that a music management company and tour promoter is liable for unemployment insurance contributions on its payments to musicians who perform on tour at the musical productions, even though the company considers the musicians "independent contractors."  Laborers/"loaders", however, are not considered employees.

September 20, 2013

Safe Harbor Does Not Protect Vimeo For All Videos

Capitol Records v. Vimeo, No. 1:09-cv-10101-RA (S.D.N.Y. Opinion & Order filed 09/18/13) [Doc. 119].

Plaintiffs are record labels and publishers that brought a copyright infringement action against Vimeo, an online video sharing platform.  Vimeo moved for summary judgment, asserting entitlement to “safe harbor” protection pursuant to the DMCA. Plaintiffs cross-moved for partial summary judgment seeking a ruling that Vimeo is ineligible for such protection. The question before the Court was whether Vimeo is entitled to safe harbor protection pursuant to the DMCA.  The Court held that triable issues of fact remained as to whether Vimeo is entitled to safe harbor protection as to fifty-five of the videos that Vimeo employees interacted with or uploaded.  However, the Court held that Vimeo was entitled to summary judgment as to the remaining 144 videos at issue in the suit.

First, the Court considered threshold criteria whether Vimeo is eligible for safe-harbor protection.  The Court found that Vimeo is a "service provider", it had adopted and reasonably implemented a "repeat infringer policy", and it did not interfere with standard technical measures.  Thus, Vimeo was eligible for safe-harbor protection.

Having satisfied the threshold criteria, the Court considered whether Vimeo met the requirements of § 512(c), which apply to any claims “for infringement of copyright by reason of the storage at the direction of a user of material that resides on a system or network controlled or operated by or for the service provider.”  As to 10 of the videos, the Court found a triable issue with respect to whether certain employees were storing their content as “users” within the meaning of § 512(c) or as employees acting within the scope
of their employment.  Also, the Court found triable issues exist as to whether Vimeo acquired actual or red flag knowledge of the infringing content in 55 videos with which Vimeo employees interacted (e.g., commented on the videos, "liked" the videos, placed on channels etc.)  By contrast, there was no evidence that Vimeo acquired actual or red flag knowledge as to 144 videos with which Vimeo employees indisputably did not interact, and Vimeo was thus entitled to summary judgment as to these videos.

Plaintiffs' "willful blindness" arguments failed.  The Court noted that service providers are under no affirmative duty to seek out infringement, even when they possess technological measures permitting them to do so.

Also, the Court concluded that Vimeo lacked the right and ability to control infringing activity.  The Court considered the totality of Vimeo’s monitoring program, and rejected Plaintiffs’ arguments and found no triable issue as to the exertion of substantial influence on user activity.  The Court also rejected Plaintiffs' argument that Vimeo exerted substantial influence on its users’ activities through inducement.

The Court also concluded that Vimeo acted expeditiously when it removed videos pursuant to take-down notices.

Lastly, the Court concluded that DMCA protection did not apply to pre-1972 sound recordings.  The Court recognized other authority in the SDNY that found otherwise, but found the recent decision by the New York First Dep't, UMG Recordings, Inc. v. Escape Media Grp., Inc., 964 N.Y.S.2d 106 (1st Dep’t 2013), and the December 2011 Copyright Office Report concluding that the DMCA  safe harbors do not apply to pre-1972 records.  Accordingly, even those 144 videos that were otherwise protected by the DMCA are not protected if they are pre-72 recordings.

September 19, 2013

9th Cir. Orders Trial Over Bob Marley Licensing Rights

Rock River Commc'n v. Universal Music Group, No. 11-57168 (9th Cir. filed 9/18/13) [Decision]

This case concerns licensing rights for early Bob Marley recordings.  The absence of legal documentation has led to confusion as to who owns licensing rights for the recordings.

The 9th Circuit found that the chain of title to the recordings, by both sides claiming rights, was "spotty."  Therefore, the case was remanded for trial.

ASCAP Required To License ALL Songs In Its Repertory To Pandora

In re Petition of Pandora Media, Inc., No. 1:12-cv-08035-DLC (S.D.N.Y. Opinion & Order filed 09/17/13) [Doc. 70], related to U.S. v. ASCAP, No. 41 Civ. 1395.

ASCAP must license all songs in its repertory to Pandora, even though certain music publishers have purported to withdraw from ASCAP the right to license their compositions to “New Media” services such as Pandora, holds the ASCAP rate court in interpreting the consent decree under which ASCAP operates.  "Because the language of the consent decree unambiguously requires ASCAP to provide Pandora with a license to perform all of the works in its repertory, and because ASCAP retains the works of 'withdrawing' publishers in its repertory even if it purports to lack the right to license them to a subclass of New Media entities, Pandora’s motion for summary judgment is granted."

In April 2011, ASCAP began to allow members to withdraw from ASCAP its rights to license their music to New Media outlets, while allowing ASCAP to retain the right to license those works to other outlets.  Subsequently, several music publishers withdrew their New Media licensing rights from ASCAP, and Pandora then engaged in license negotiations directly with those publishers.  On July 1, 2013, Pandora filed a motion for summary judgment, seeking a determination that “ASCAP publisher ‘withdrawals’ [of New Media rights] during the term of Pandora’s consent decree license do not affect the scope of the ASCAP
repertory subject to that license."  ASCAP argued that “’ASCAP repertory’ refers only to the rights in musical works that ASCAP has been granted by its members as of a particular moment in time.” Pandora argued that ASCAP repertory” is a “defined term[] articulated in terms of ‘works’ or ‘compositions,’ as opposed to in terms of a gerrymandered parcel of ‘rights.’” The Court found that Pandora was correct.  “ASCAP repertory” is defined in the consent decree in terms of “works” and not “individual rights” in works with respect to classes of potential licensees.  The Court also held that Pandora's subsequent negotiations with the publishers did not alter interpretation of the consent decree because Pandora is not a party to the consent decree.

September 12, 2013

Beastie Boys Avoid Several Copyright Claims In Sampling Case

TufAmerica, Inc. v. Diamond et al., No. 12-cv-3529-AJN (S.D.N.Y. filed Sep. 10, 2013).

Plaintiff brought a copyright infringement action against the Beastie Boys alleging unlawful sampling of 6 pieces of plaintiff's music in five Beastie Boys songs that appear on two Beastie Boys albums (Paul's Boutique and Licensed to Ill).  Defendants moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6).

The Court agreed with plaintiff that the standard for determining substantial similarity was "fragmented literal similarity", rather than "ordinary observer" standard.  Under the "fragmented literal similarity" standard, the question was whether the copying went to trivial or substantive elements.  Thus, the "real question" for the Court was whether Plaintiff had alleged that each sample was "quantitatively and qualitatively important to the original work such that the fragmented similarity becomes sufficiently substantial for the use to become an infringement."  Under the quantitative analysis, the concept of de minimis copying is relevant.  Also, the analysis is of the original song -- not of the use in the allegedly infringing song; therefore, the Court was not persuaded by Plaintiff's allegation in its original complaint that the samples were concealed to a casual listener of the Beastie Boys' songs.  Thus, the Court then went on a song-by-song analysis, which included a discussion of whether the sampled portion was even copyrightable material, and dismissed four of the claims based on 4 of the samples.  Lastly, under the statute of limitations, the Court also limited the surviving claims to infringements occurring after May 2009 (3 years before the suit was filed).

September 11, 2013

Radio Station Not Liable On Claims Based On Number Of Podcast Downloads

Cmty. Music Ctrs. of Atlanta, LLC v. JW Broad., Inc., 2013 ILRC 2580, 2013 WL 4516739 (Ga. Ct. App. 2013).

Plaintiff advertised its music education services on defendant's radio station, but failed to pay.  The radio station sued for "open account", and the plaintiff counter-claimed for breach of contract and fraud.  The crux of plaintiff's claims was that the radio station misrepresented the exposure it would provide through podcast downloads.  According to plaintiff, the radio station failed to fulfill its promise that there would be “hundreds of thousands of downloads” of the program plaintiff sponsored and, as a result, plaintiff did not receive the advertising exposure it had bargained for.

The court found that the radio station was not liable on the breach of contract claim because the plaintiff failed to present any evidence to show that the radio station promised that there would be a certain number of future downloads of the program.  Instead, the radio station "promoted the program's national popularity by stating that it 'has received hundreds of thousands of downloads,' in other words, in the past".  The fraud claim similarly failed because the plaintiff sought, not a certain number of downloads, but, rather, to sponsor a radio show for a specific time period.  Any prediction regarding future download statistics would be conjecture, falling short of fraud.

YMCA Termination Rights

From the New York Times (article here):

A Copyright Victory, 35 Years Later
Victor Willis, a former member of the Village People, is set to take control of a share of the copyright to songs he wrote for the group.

September 3, 2013

".music" Okay For Top-Level Domain

DotMusic Ltd. v. .music LLC, 2013 ILRC 2545 (W.I.P.O. Aug. 21, 2013).

WIPO found that that the operation of a ".music" top-level domain would not result in likelihood of confusion with existing trademark registrations (in Europe) for .MUSIC and DOTMUSIC.  Decision here.

Dismissal Of Bay City Rollers' Royalties Suit Upheld By 2nd Circuit

Mitchell v. Faulkner, No. 13-576-cv (2d Cir. filed 8/29/2013).

The Second Circuit affirmed the lower court's Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal of plaintiffs' (Bay City Rollers) claims for unpaid royalties based in the alternative on breach of contract and unjust enrichment.  The contract claim failed because it was barred by the statute of frauds, in that any agreement to pay royalties extending beyond one year must be in writing to satisfy the statute of frauds.  The unjust enrichment claim failed because it was barred by the statute of limitations.  As stated by the Second Circuit
A claim for unjust enrichment must be based on the value of plaintiffs’ contribution to the joint effort of the band at the time it made the relevant records, not on the income stream resulting from a revival over thirty years later. That contribution and the failure of the defendants to pay for the value of the effort occurred well over six years ago and is barred by the statute of limitations.  N.Y.C.P.L.R. § 213.

August 19, 2013

Blurred Lines - Infringement?

Williams v. Bridgeport Music, Inc., No. 13-cv-06004 (C.D. Cal. complaint filed 8/15/2013).

Plaintiffs bring this declaratory judgment action seeking a declaration that their summer-single "Blurred Lines" does not infringe defendants songs: (i) Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give it Up", and (ii) Funkadelic's "Sexy Ways."  Plaintiffs claim there are no similarities between "Blurred Lines" and those defendants own, other than commonplace musical elements.  "Plaintiffs created a hit and did it without copying anyone else's composition."  What do you think?

Chubby Checker TM Claims Survive But State Law Claims Preempted By CDA

Evans et al. v. Hewlett Packard Co. et al., No. 3:13-cv-02477-WHA (N.D. Cal. filed 08/15/13) (Doc. 67).

Plaintiff is the artist known as "Chubby Checker" and various entities that own related trademarks.  This case concerns a software application called “The Chubby Checker” that is offered for sale/download on defendants' web-based store.  The app purports to estimate the size of a man’s genitals based on his shoe size.

The Court held that Plaintiff stated a claim for federal and common law trademark infringement.  The crux of defendants’ argument was that the complaint only attempts to plead claims for contributory infringement and not for direct infringement. To be liable for contributory infringement, defendants argue that they must have had actual knowledge of the infringement and yet continued to sell the app. Defendants urge that the complaint fails to allege either that defendants knew of the infringement or that defendants continued to sell the app after receiving plaintiffs’ cease-and-desist letter.  However, the Court disagreed, finding: "Construed favorably to the plaintiffs, these allegations are sufficient to permit an inference that defendants knew, or could have reasonably deduced that the owner of the Chubby Checker mark would never have consented to license the mark for such a vulgar purpose."

However, the Court held that Plaintifffs' state-law claims — violation of Pennsylvania’s unfair competition and trademark laws and Pennsylvania’s and California’s right of publicity statutes — were preempted by Section 230 of the Communications and Decency Act (47 U.S.C. 230).  The Court found that defendants were internet service providers that host third-party content and not content providers, and defendants therefore enjoyed the broad immunity provided under Section 230 of the CDA from all state claims relating to publishing content created by third parties.

Plaintiff in Roc Logo Case Granted Leave To Amend

Walker v. Carter et al., No. 1:12-cv-05384-ALC-RLE (S.D.N.Y. filed 08/14/13) (Doc. 58).

Plaintiff alleged that defendants (Jay-Z, his record label(s) and business partners) entered into an oral contract with Plaintiff in 1995 under which Plaintiff was to re-design the logo for the Roc-A-Fella record label in exchange for: (i) $3,500 up-front, and (ii) 2% of all revenues from products bearing the logo for the next ten years.  The moving defendants argued that Plaintiff failed to state a claim under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) because none of them had any dealings with plaintiff.  In opposition, Plaintiff requested leave to amend the complaint.  The Court denied the motions without prejudice and granted Plaintiff leave to amend (but was cautioned about requesting leave to amend again).

August 16, 2013

Copyright Case Properly Reinstated Against Church

Yesh Music v. Lakewood Church et al., No. 12-20520 [Doc. 00512341666] (5th Cir. filed 08/14/2013).

Plaintiff filed a copyright infringement complaint against Defendants in Texas.  Defendants are a large church and its pastors, Joel and Victoria Osteen.  Plaintiff had granted the church a limited license to use a song
in connection with various  marketing media.  When the church used the song in a televised promotional broadcast, Plaintiff asserted that the limited license did not permit use of the song on television and that in any case, the term of the license had expired. Unable to resolve their dispute, Plaintiff filed a copyright infringement suit against Defendants.

Plaintiffs it later voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit without prejudice.  Plaintiff then filed an identical case in federal court in New York.  Back in Texas, the church has filed a motion for its costs and when the parties were before the Court on that matter, the parties agreed on the record to dismiss the New York action and re-instate the Texas action. Because under Rule 41(a)(1)(B), the two successive voluntary dismissals of the lawsuit had the effect of rendering the second dismissal as one with prejudice, Plaintiff filed a motion to vacate its voluntary dismissal under Rule 60(b), which the district court granted.  Defendant opposed, arguing that Rule 60(b) only applies to a "final" order or judgment, and the first voluntary dismissal was not "final."  The Fifth Circuit found that a voluntary dismissal without prejudice is a “final proceeding” under Rule 60(b) and the district court did not abuse its discretion in reinstating the case.

August 15, 2013

New York Law On Photographing And Recording Concerts

In researching for an unrelated matter, I came across New York's Arts and Cultural Affairs Law § 31.01.  The law was enacted in 1983.  Imagine how it might apply today, with the abundance of iPhones and other smart-phones with image capturing and sound recording capabilities.

The statute prohibits, inter alia, the taking of photographs or making of sound recordings of any performance presented in a theater "without having first obtained the written consent of the management to do so."  Remedies for the management include bringing an action for an injunction, an accounting, or for damages resulting from or in respect of any photographs or sound recordings of any performance made without the consent required or resulting from or in respect of any distribution or attempted distribution of any such photographs or sound recordings or reproductions thereof.

Further, the statute provides that management shall have the right to request and obtain possession of photographic or sound recording devices until the conclusion of the performance.  Failure by any person admitted or seeking admission to a theatre in which a performance is to be or is being presented, refuses or fails to give or surrender possession of any photographic or sound recording device which such person has brought into or attempts to bring into such theatre without having first obtained the written consent of the management to do so, then the management shall have the right to remove such person therefrom or refuse admission thereto to such person, and shall thereupon offer to refund and, unless such offer is refused, refund to such person the price paid by such person for admission to such theatre. 

If such person refuses to leave such theatre after having been informed by the management thereof that possession of any photographic or sound recording device in such theatre without the written consent of the management is prohibited, then such person shall be deemed to be remaining in the theatre unlawfully, and in addition, the management shall have the right to maintain an action in trespass and for punitive damages against such person.  

The criminal penalties and civil remedies provided by the statute are without force or effect unless the management of the theatre shall have posted signs at the box office and at or near the audience entrance to the portion of the theatre wherein the performance is to be presented and printed in any program which may be furnished to the audience for such performance, stating in substance as follows: "WARNING The photographing or sound recording of any performance or the possession of any device for such photographing or sound recording inside this theatre, without the written permission of the management is prohibited by law. Offenders may be ejected and liable for damages and other lawful remedies."

There are no reported cases under this statute.


August 14, 2013

Article re Registering Multiple Works In A Single Copyright Registration

Marc Jacobson and Marc Pellegrino, "Registering Multiple Musical Works in a Single Copyright Registration", NYSBA Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Journal, Vol. 24 No. 2, pp. 13-16 (Summer 2013).

This article clarifies:
"...if music is being commercially released exclusively via sale of a complete album, one is only entitled to one statutory damage award for any infringements therein.  If, on the other hand, the individual songs on that album, which were registered as part of the single application, are also 'issued' individually, those individually released songs gain full statutory damage protection."
The article was a reply to an earlier published article wherein the author had suggested that a single copyright application for more than one work can retain all the legal remedies afforded by the Copyright Act while saving money by avoiding multiple registration fees. Citing Bryant v. Media Rights Prods., Inc., 603 F.3d 135 (2d Cir. 2010), and Arista Records LLC v. Lime Group LLC, 2011 WL 1311771 (S.D.N.Y. 2011), the article suggests that traditional registration of each track and each song may still provide the best possible protection for sound recordings and musical compositions.

August 8, 2013

Green Day's Use Of Illustration During Concert Was Fair Use, But Attorney's Fees Denied

Seltzer v. Green Day, Inc. et al., No. 11-56573 [D.C. No. 2:10-cv-02103] (9th Cir. Aug. 7, 2013).

The 9th Circuits affirmed summary judgment in favor of the defendants, but vacated the attorney's fees award, in an artist's action alleging violations of the Copyright Act and the Lanham Act relating to the rock band Green Day's unauthorized use of an illustration ("Scream Icon") in the video backdrop of its stage show.

The Court found that use of the illustration in the video backdrop was a fair use under the Copyright Act: it was transformative, the illustration was a widely disseminated work of street art, the illustration was not meaningfully divisible, and the video backdrop did not affect the value of the illustration.  As to the trademark claims, the artist failed to establish any trademark rights.  In vacating the attorney's fees award under the Copyright Act, the Court found that even though defendant was successful on their fair use defense, the plaintiff did not act objectively unreasonably ("there is simply no reason to believe that Seltzer should have known from the outset that his chances of success in this case were slim to none.").

August 2, 2013

English Court Finds TopShop's Sale Of Rihanna T-Shirt Without Her Approval Was "Passing Off"

Robyn Rihanna Fenty et al. v. Arcardia Group Brands Limited (t/a Topshop) et al.; No. HC12F01378, [2013] EWHC 2310 (Ch. July 31, 2013).

This case was before the English High Court of Chancery in London.  In March 2012, the retailer Topshop started selling a t-shirt with an image of the pop star Rihanna on it.  Topshop had a license from the photographer, but not from Rihanna who contended that sale of the t-shirts without her permission infringed her rights.

The court found it "important to state at the outset that this case is not concerned with so called 'image rights'.  Whatever may be the position elsewhere in the world, and how ever much various celebrities may wish there were, there is today in England no such thing as a free standing general right by a famous person (or anyone else) to control the reproduction of their image."  Instead, "this case is concerned with passing off."  The burden was on Rihanna to establish that she has a goodwill and reputation amongst relevant members of the public, the conduct complained of was likely to deceive those members of the public into buying the product because they think it is authorized by her, and that misrepresentation damaged her goodwill.  For passing off to succeed, there must be a misrepresentation about trade origin.

The Court concluded that Rihanna "was and is regarded as a style icon by many people..." and that she had ample goodwill to succeed in a passing off action.  The scope of her goodwill was not only as a music artist but also in the world of fashion.

"The real issue in this case" was misrepresentation.  The Court concluded that a misrepresentation was made, and held that "it is a matter for the claimants and not Topshop to choose what garments the public think are endorsed by her."  Finding in favor of Rihanna.

July 29, 2013

Sound Recording Performance Royalty Proposed

House democrat Rep. Mel Watt (North Carolina) announced a plan to reintroduce legislation requiring radio stations to pay performance royalties for sound recordings (not just for compositions).  The last time the issue was proposed, in February 2009 (H.R. 848, the Performance Rights Act), the bill failed to pass the House.  The National Association of Broadcasters issued a statement strongly opposing a "new performance tax."

July 22, 2013

Viacom Denied Attorney's Fees in TM Dispute With Gibson Guitars

Gibson Guitar Corp. v. Viacom Inc'l, Inc., No. 12-cv-10870 (C.D. Cal. July 18, 2013) [Doc. 51].

Plaintiff owns a trademark for the "FLYING V" mark and sued Viacom for trademark infringement relating to SpongeBob Square Pants "alleging that Flying V SpongeBob SquarePants ukuleles have been advertised and distributed without Gibson's authorization".  The Court previously granted Viacom's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, and Viacom moved for attorney's fees under the Lanham Act.  The Court denied the motion.  "The court finds that Gibson's case against Viacom is not 'exceptional' in the sense of the Lanham Act. The fact that allegations are insufficient to survive a motion to dismiss does not in itself render a complaint groundless under Lanham Act."

July 18, 2013

Trademark Claim Over Band Name Dismissed For Lack Of Standing And Failure To State A Claim

Newsboys v. Warner Bros. Records Inc. et al., No. 3:12-cv-0678 (M.D. Tenn. - Nashville filed July 11, 2013) [Doc. 41].

Plaintiffs filed suit under the Lanham Act against defendants -- music distributors and the band New Boyz -- alleging trademark infringement of the mark NEWSBOYS.  The court concluded that the plaintiffs Newsboys Inc. lacked standing to pursue its claims because the other plaintiff, Wesley Campbell, is the sole owner of the Newboys trademark.  Also, the Court concluded that because Campbell's registered trademark is limited to "live musical performances of a religious nature rendered by a group," he had failed to allege plausible facts of the likelihood of confusion of the two groups.

7th Cir. Affirms Dismissal of "Nikita"/"Natasha" Suit Against Elton John

Hobbs v. Elton John, No. 12-3652 (7th Cir. July 17, 2013).

Plaintiff composed a song entitled “Natasha” that was inspired by a brief love affair he had with a Russian waitress.  Plaintiff tried to publish  his song, but was unsuccessful. A few years later, Elton John and Bernie Taupin released a song entitled “Nikita” through a publishing company to which Plaintiff had sent a copy of “Natasha.” Believing that “Nikita” was based upon “Natasha,” Plaintiff eventually demanded compensation
from John and Taupin, and ultimately filed suit asserting a copyright infringement claim and two related state law claims. The defendants moved to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim, and the district court granted the defendants’ motion.  The 7th Circuit affirmed.

The Court held that Plaintiff failed to state a claim for copyright infringement because, even when the allegedly similar elements between the songs are considered in combination, the songs are not substantially similar.  Defendants conceded that Plaintiff owned a valid copyright in the song and that Defendants had access to it.  "Thus, the defendants can only prevail on their motion to dismiss if 'Natasha' and 'Nikita'
are not 'substantially similar' as a matter of law. That is, if as a matter of law 'Natasha' and 'Nikita' do not 'share enough unique features to give rise to a breach of the duty not to copy another’s work'."  The Court found that Plaintiff's argument "flounders on two well-established principles of copyright law."  First, that the Copyright Act does not protect general ideas, but only the particular expression of an idea.  And second, even at the level of particular expression, the Copyright Act does not protect “incidents, characters or settings which are as a practical matter indispensable, or at least standard, in the treatment of a given topic.” A careful review of both songs’ lyrics reveals that Plaintiff's first four allegedly similar elements are expressed differently in “Natasha” and “Nikita.” And the remaining similar elements are rudimentary, commonplace, standard, or unavoidable in popular love songs.  The two songs simply “tell different stories."

Because “Natasha” and “Nikita” are not “substantially similar” as a matter of law, Plaintiff's copyright infringement claim failed as a matter of law.

July 9, 2013

80's Pop Song Makes It Into Supreme Court Decision

American Trucking Association, Inc v. City of Los Angeles, No. 11–798 (U.S. June 13, 2013).

The issue before the Supreme Court was whether certain requirements implemented by the Port of Los Angeles (CA) were pre-empted by federal law, the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994.  The local regulation required a company to affix a placard on each truck with a phone number for reporting concerns, and to submit a plan listing off-street parking locations for each truck  The Supreme Court held that the the federal law pre-empted the local regulation.

What has this got to do with music?  In delivering the opinion of the Court, Justice Kagen wrote (at p. 2 of the slip opinion):
...a company may transport cargo at the Port in exchange for complying with various requirements. The two directly at issue here compel the company to (1) affix a placard on each truck with a phone number for reporting environmental or safety concerns (You’ve seen the type: “How am I driving? 213–867–5309”) and (2) submit a plan listing off-street parking locations for each truck when not in service.  [Emphasis added].

That phone number, of course, is from Tommy Tutone's classic 1980s one-hit wonder "867-5309/Jenny".

July 2, 2013

Bowery Presents Avoids Arbitration In Ticket Case

The Bowery Presents LLC v. Pires, No. 653377/2012, NYLJ 1202608931096, at *1 (Sup. Ct., N.Y. Co. decided June 24, 2013) (Bransten, J.S.C.).

Bowery Presents, a concert promoter, moved to stay arbitration that had been filed by the respondent ticket purchaser on the basis that Bowery Presents was not a party to an arbitration agreement with the respondent.  The Court granted the motion and stayed arbitration.

Bowery Presents had entered into a written License Agreement with Live Nation Entertainment, Inc. (d/b/a Ticketmaster) ("Ticketmaster") under which Ticketmaster was to act as Bowery's agent for the sale and distribution of tickets to entertainment events.   Bowery Presents was the promoter for a March 28, 2012 event to which the respondent purchased a ticket through the Ticketmaster website.  In order to purchase her ticket, Respondent was required to agree to the "Terms of Use" on Ticketmaster's website. The Terms of Use contained an arbitration clause: "Live Nation and you [user of and its related websites] agree to arbitrate all disputes and claims between us. This agreement to arbitrate is intended to be broadly interpreted." 

In the arbitration, Respondent asserts a claim pursuant to §25.33 of the Arts and Cultural Affairs Law of the State of New York ("ACAL") to recover damages and injunctive relief arising from Bowery's alleged violations of §25.30(c) of the ACAL by employing a paperless ticketing system.  Respondent contended that Bowery violated ACAL §25.30(c) by employing a paperless ticketing system without providing the consumer the option of purchasing the tickets in a transferable form.  Respondent thus filed a demand for arbitration.  The issue was whether Bowery Presents, a nonsignatory to the arbitration agreement, could nonetheless be bound by the arbitration clause.

The Court found that Ticketmaster was Bowery's limited agent and, therefore, Bowery was not bound by the arbitration clause in the Terms of Use.  Moreover, the Court found that even if Ticketmaster did possess sufficient authority to bind Bowery Presents to an arbitration agreement, the plain language of the arbitration clause at issue bound only Ticketmaster and the ticket purchaser to arbitration, not Bowery Presents. 

June 28, 2013

New Suits Against Labels

Two suits were filed yesterday in SDNY against various record labels:

Grant v. Warner Music Group Corp. and Atlantic Recording Corp., No. 13-cv-4449 (alleging violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act concerning failure to pay employees minimum wages and overtime compensation).

Slip-N-Slide Records Inc. v. The Island Def Jam Music Group, No. 13-cv-4450 (seeking an accounting, declaratory judgment and claiming breach of fiduciary duty relating to defendant's agreement to manufacture and distribute sound recordings of plaintiff's artists).

June 26, 2013

1st Cir Affirms $675,000 Jury Award For Unauthorized Downloads/Distributions

Sony BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum, No. Case: 12-2146 (1st Cir. filed 6/25/2013) [Doc. 00116547502].

From the decision:
Joel Tenenbaum illegally downloaded and distributed music for several years. A group of recording companies sued Tenenbaum, and a jury awarded damages of $675,000, representing $22,500 for each of thirty songs whose copyright Tenenbaum violated. Tenenbaum appeals the award, claiming that it is so large that it violates his constitutional right to due process of law. We hold that the award did not violate Tenenbaum's right to due process, and we affirm.
The two issues on appeal were: (1) what is the correct standard for evaluating the constitutionality of an award of statutory damages under the Copyright Act; and (2) did an award of $675,000 violate defendant's right to due process?  On issue one, the Court held that the correct standard was that announced in St. Louis, I.M. & S.Ry. Co. v. Williams, 251 U.S. 63 (1919), that a statutory damage award violates due process only "where the penalty prescribed is so severe and oppressive as to be wholly disproportionate to the offense and obviously unreasonable."  On issue two, the Court found that the award did not violate defendant's due process rights.

June 25, 2013

CLE "Does The DMCA Apply To Pre-1972 Sound Recordings"

This afternoon, David Rabinowitz and I co-presented a CLE entitled "Why The Internet Distribution of Pre-1972 Sound Recordings Is Different From Everything Else In Copyright Law -or- Does The DMCA Apply To Pre-1972 Sound Recordings."  Topics included a brief history of copyright in sound recordings, the scope of common law copyright protection, federal preemption of common law copyright (except for pre-1972 recordings), related claims of unfair competition, the DMCA safe-harbor, conflicting case law on whether the DMCA safe-harbor applies to pre-1972 recordings, and conflicting decisions on whether there is immunity for service providers under the Communications Decency Act.  Thank you to those who attended.

June 14, 2013

Happy Birthday Class Action

Good Morning To You Productions Corp. v. Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., No. 1:13-cv-4040 (S.D.N.Y. filed June 13, 2013).

Plaintiff brings a class action on behalf of licensees of the song "Happy Birthday to You" (from June 13, 2009-present), seeking a declaratory judgment that defendant does not have the right to collect licensing fees for use of the song, "Happy Birthday To You."  Plaintiff claims that the song is in the public domain and dedicated to public use.

BMI Brings Petition For Pandora Blanket License

Broadcast Music, Inc. v. Pandora Media, Inc., No, 1:13-cv-4037 (S.D.N.Y. filed June 13, 2013).

BMI seeks a determination of license fees/terms for a blanket license covering all BMI musical compositions performed on the streaming service Pandora.

June 3, 2013

New Trial In EMI/Citi Case

Terra Firma Investments v. Citigroup, Docket No. 11-1267 (2d Cir. May 31, 2013)

After a jury trial, judgment was entered against Plaintiff.  The Second Circuit vacated the judgment and remanded for a new trial, "[b]ecause the district court’s jury instructions were based on an inaccurate understanding of the relevant English law".

This case concerns the 2007 acquisition of EMI by the private equity firm Terra Firma.  Terra Firma sued Citigroup, alleging that during the auction, a Citi banker advising the auction fraudulently induced the Terra Firma to make an inflated bid for EMI.  A jury ruled in Citi's favor.

May 23, 2013

No Patent For Music Royalty Technology

In re Scott P. Schreer, No. 2012-1564 (Fed. Cir. May 21, 2013).

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the Board of Patent Appeals decision that "the claims would have been obvious to one of ordinary skill in the art at the time of invention..."  The patent application sought to cure problems relating to the "public performance" right of copyright holders by claiming a method of compensating the copyright holders.  "Generally speaking, the claimed method method consists of embedding identification information in an audio file, broadcasting the audio file in a public broadcast, receiving the audio file by a monitoring station, correlating the identification information to a copyright holder, and then compensating the copyright holder."

May 21, 2013

Class Action Brought Against eMusic

Dabaghian v., No. 651794/2013 (Sup. Ct., N.Y. Co. filed 5/20/2013).

Plaintiff brought a class action for breach of contract, breach of warranty and violations of N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law.  Plaintiff alleges that eMusic sells music download cards that represent that a specific number of songs can be purchased for a fixed price.  Plaintiff allegedly purchased such a card that advertised 30 songs for $15.  However, plaintiff allegedly was only able to download 16 songs before the card was depleted.  Plaintiff alelges that eMusic failed to disclose it had switched to a monetary based credit system where each song is individually priced.  Under this system, a song may cost 89 cents, and allegedly only rarely costs 50 cents.  Accordingly, Plaintiff alleges it is impossible to purchase 30 songs for $15.

May 16, 2013

Reconsideration in MP3Tunes Case

Capitol Records, Inc. v. MP3Tunes, LLC, No. 07-cv-9931 (S.D.N.Y. filed May 14, 2013) [Doc. 368].

All parties moved for reconsideration of the Court's October 25, 2011 order (821 F. Supp. 2d 627), springing from the 2nd Circuit's decision in Viacom Int'l v. YouTube, Inc., 676 F.3d 19 (2d Cir. 2012).  Plaintiff's motion was granted in part and denied in part: plaintiff's motion was granted as to the issue of willful blindness and "red flag" knowledge, and denied as to the inducement of copyright claim.  Defendant's motion regarding direct copyright infringement was granted in part and denied in part.  Defendant's motion for reconsideration regarding infringement of cover art, regarding personal jurisdiction and summary judgment as to his vicarious liability was denied.

There is an interesting discussion of "red flag" knowledge of infringement, under which service providers can lose the protection of the DMCA safe harbors if they have actual or apparent (i.e., "red flag") knowledge of infringing conduct.

May 13, 2013

Composer's Suit Against Orchestra Survives Summary Judgment

Currier v Brooklyn Philharmonic Symphony, No. 7661/2009 (N.Y. Sup. Ct., Kings Co. May 6, 2013).  Decision here.

Defendant symphony motion for summary judgment on Plaintiff's claims for breach of contract denied (though the claim for breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing was dismissed).  The dispute is based on the symphony's failure to perform the entirety of Plaintiff's 3-act piece, and on issues relating to the length of breaks and overtime for the musicians.

May 9, 2013

Gaga Dismissed From Copyright Case Because Indemnification And Contribution Not Available

Gaines v. Fusari, No. 2:11-cv-04433-WJM-MF (D.N.J. filed 05/08/13) [Doc. 85].

The Court granted third-party defendant Lady Gaga's motion to dismiss the third-party complaint.  Gaga and defendant co-own the copyright to a number of songs.  Plaintiff brought the action seeking a declaration that he is a co-author and co-producer of the songs.  After Plaintiff sued defendant, defendant brought third-party claims for indemnification and contribution against Gaga.  The Court found:
Fusari’s indemnification and contribution claims against Germanotta must be grounded in federal law. But neither federal statutory law nor federal common law provide causes of action for indemnification or contribution in Copyright Act cases. See, e.g., Pure Country Weavers, Inc. v. Bristar, Inc., 410 F. Supp. 2d 439, 448 (W.D.N.C. 2006) (no cause of action for indemnification in Copyright case); Arista Records, Inc. v. Flea World, Inc., 356 F. Supp. 2d 411, 416 (D.N.J. 2005) (no cause of action for contribution in Copyright case). Accordingly, the Court will DISMISS Counts I and II WITH PREJUDICE.

May 8, 2013

Publisher Denied Attorney's Fees

De Walt v. Jobete Musc Co., No. B240650 (Cal. App. Ct., 2d Dist. filed May 7, 2013).

The California appellate court held that a publisher (related to MoTown) could not recover attorney's fees  in a royalties related suit in which the publisher prevailed because the company didn't move for the fees in the initial trial over copyright-misappropriation claims.

This case arises from an underlying action filed in 2003 by respondents,1 who are the heirs of the late musician and composer Autry De Walt, professionally known as Junior Walker (De Walt), against appellant Jobete Music Co., Inc. (Jobete). In the underlying action, respondents disputed the ownership of renewal copyrights of certain songs and sought a declaration as to which of several contracts between De Walt and Jobete were applicable. A jury found the most recent contract governed, and judgment was entered in favor of Jobete and affirmed on appeal. Although Jobete filed a memorandum of costs in the underlying action, it did not seek its attorney fees. Instead, over the next several years, Jobete unilaterally offset from the royalties payable to respondents amounts it claimed were incurred as attorney fees in the underlying action. In 2009, respondents sued Jobete for breach of contract and conversion. Following a bench trial based on stipulated evidence, the trial court entered judgment in favor of respondents, finding that Jobete was barred from seeking its attorney fees by not pursuing them in the underlying action. We agree that Jobete is no longer entitled to seek its attorney fees. We affirm the judgment in favor of respondents except as to their conversion claim.

May 6, 2013

Dismissal of Duke Ellington Royalty Suit Affirmed

Ellington v. EMI Music, No. 651558/10, NYLJ 1202598616249 (1st Dep't May 2, 2013)

The First Department affirmed dismissal of Duke Ellington heirs' breach of contract action against a group of music publishers.  The dispute was based on a 1961 songwriter agreement, and called for an interpretation of paragraph 3(a) of the agreement which, where relevant, required payment to Ellington of "a sum equal to fifty (50 percent) percent of the net revenue actually received by the Second Party from…foreign publication" of Ellington's compositions.  This is known in the music publishing industry as a "net receipts" arrangement by which a composer, such as Ellington, would collect royalties based on income received by a publisher after the deduction of fees charged by foreign subpublishers.

Fees that previously had been charged by independent foreign subpublishers under the instant net receipts agreement were now being charged by subpublishers owned by Defendant.  Plaintiff asserted that Defendant had enabled itself to skim his claimed share of royalties from the Duke Ellington compositions by paying commissions to its affiliated foreign subpublishers before remitting the bargained-for royalty payments to Duke Ellington's heirs.  In dismissing the complaint, the motion court declined to read into the royalty payment terms any distinction between affiliated and unaffiliated foreign subpublishers inasmuch as the contracting parties themselves chose not to make such a distinction.  The First Department affirmed.

The Court found no ambiguity in the agreement which, by its terms, required EMI to pay Ellington's heirs 50 percent of the net revenue actually received from foreign publication of Ellington's compositions. "'Foreign publication' has one unmistakable meaning regardless of whether it is performed by independent or affiliated subpublishers. Given the plain meaning of the agreement's language, plaintiff's argument that foreign subpublishers were generally unaffiliated in 1961, when the agreement was executed, is immaterial."

May 3, 2013

Bieber and Usher Sued For Copyright Infringement; "Somebody To Love"

Copeland v. Bieber et al., No. 2:13-cv-00246 (E.D. Va. filed May 2, 2013).

Justin Beiber and Usher were sued by authors of the song "Somebody to Love" for alleged copyright infringement.  The notable aspect of the Complaint is the level of detail the Plaintiffs include in alleging the extent of copying and comparing the two works (at paragraph 47).

May 2, 2013

Songwriter's Widow Sanctioned; Default Judgments In Favor Of Assignee Not Vacated

Bridgeport Music, et al. v. Smith, et al., No. 12-1523 (6th Cir. May 1, 2013).

This action is based on default judgments entered in 2004 that plaintiff obtained against defendants for copyright infringement of the 1974 song "You’re Getting a Little Too Smart" ("Smart").  Plaintiff was the assignee of the songwriter's rights in the song.  In 2011, the songwriter's widow moved to vacate the default judgments, arguing that she, not Plaintiffs, was the legal owner of the copyright by operation of law at the time the lawsuit was filed.  The district court denied the motion, as well as her motion for reconsideration, and the widow appealed.  The Sixth Circuit affirmed, and granted Plaintiffs motion for damages and costs.

After stating the relevant facts, the Court began its analysis by determining who was entitled to what copyright interests in “Smart” under the renewal provisions of the Copyright Act:  "(1) Based on their assigned interest in the initial copyright, Plaintiffs had the right to sue for infringing acts occurring up through December 31, 2002, see 17 U.S.C. § 501(b) ..., and they had three years after that date to bring a cause of action. ... (2) Because Tilmon died prior to the renewal term, Tilmon’s contingency interest in the renewal copyright passed to Tilmon-Jones and Tilmon’s children, on January 1, 2003."

Next, the Court considered whether the widow, as a non-party to the litigation in which the judgments were entered, had standing.  The Court determined she did not have standing to bring a Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b) motion.  Rule 60(b) provides in pertinent part that a “court may relieve a party or its legal representative” from a final judgment.  Nor was the widow in privity, or were here interests "strongly affected."

The Court also found that the widow's motion to vacate the judgments was untimely under Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(c)(1), which requires such motion be made within a reasonable period of time.  She did not file the motions until 6 years after constructive notice of the judgments (due to recordation of the judgments with the Copyright Office), and 7 years after they were entered.  The motions also were barred by a release the widow signed in another action.

Lastly, the Sixth Circuit sanctioned the widow and her counsel, pursuant to Fed. R. App. P. 38 and 28 U.S.C. § 1912.  "The conduct of Tilmon-Jones and her counsel was objectively and patently meritless and a waste of judicial resources. Tilmon-Jones maintains that her appeal is not frivolous because the question of whether a nonparty has standing under Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b) was not obviously without merit. This may be true, but it does not obviate the fact that her appeal was utterly without merit because it was untimely and barred by a release. We find that this appeal is frivolous and that sanctions are appropriate."

April 26, 2013

KC Royalties Claim Booted From Federal Court

Smith v Casey, No. 1:12-cv-23795 (S.D. Fla. Apr. 25, 2013) [Doc. 84].

The Court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s remaining state-law claim for breach of contract relating to royalties, and "declines Plaintiff’s ill-formulated request for declaratory relief."

Plaintiff's copyright claim was previously dismissed, leaving only a state-law breach of contract claim and a request for declaratory relief.  The Court found that because "Plaintiff’s timely claims for breach-of-contract will not become time-barred as a result of this Court’s dismissal without prejudice", it would not exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claim.  Moreover, there was no diversity, and very little discovery had taken place.  The Court also rejected the declaratory judgment claim, stating it was dangerously close to a request for issuance of an advisory opinion.

April 25, 2013

Congress To Review Copyright Law

The Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), announced that the committee "will conduct a comprehensive review of U.S. copyright law over the coming months."  Continuing, the Chairman stated: "The goal of these hearings will be to determine whether the laws are still working in the digital age."  Press release here.

April 24, 2013

DMCA Safe Harbor Does Not Apply To Pre-1972 Recordings, N.Y. Appellate Court

UMG Recordings, Inc. v. Escape Media Group, Inc.2013 NY Slip Op 02702 (1st Dep't Apr. 23, 2013).  Decision here.  

Plaintiff is UMG, and defendant is the service "Grooveshark"  As described by the Court, "Users of Grooveshark can upload audio files (typically songs) to an archive maintained on defendant's computer servers, and other users can search those servers and stream recordings to their own computers or other electronic devices. "

In its answer, Grooveshark asserted as its fourteenth affirmative defense that pre-1972 recordings sat within the safe harbor of section 512(c) of the DMCA. UMG moved, inter alia, to dismiss that defense pursuant to CPLR 3211(b). The motion court denied plaintiff's motion, relying heavily on Capitol Records, Inc. v MP3tunes, LLC (821 F Supp 2d 627 [SDNY 2011]), in which the United States district court tackled precisely the same issue and found that the DMCA embraced sound recordings fixed before February 15, 1972.  The Appellate Court reversed.

First, the Court found that applying the DMCA to pre-1972 recordings would violate Section 301(c) of the Copyright Act.  "Had the DMCA never been enacted, there would be no question that UMG could sue defendant in New York state courts to enforce its copyright in the pre-1972 recordings, as soon as it learned that one of the recordings had been posted on Grooveshark. However, were the DMCA to apply as defendant believes, that right to immediately commence an action would be eliminated. Indeed, the only remedy available to UMG would be service of a takedown notice on defendant. This is, at best, a limitation on UMG's rights, and an implicit modification of the plain language of section 301(c). The word "limit" in 301(c) is unqualified, so defendant's argument that the DMCA does not contradict that section because UMG still retains the right to exploit its copyrights, to license them and to create derivative works, is without merit. Any material limitation, especially the elimination of the right to assert a common-law infringement claim, is violative of section 301(c) of the Copyright Act."  Continuing, the Court found "there is no reason to conclude that Congress recognized a limitation on common-law copyrights posed by the DMCA but intended to implicitly dilute section 301(c) nonetheless. ... Congress explicitly, and very clearly, separated the universe of sound recordings into two categories, one for works "fixed" after February 15, 1972, to which it granted federal copyright protection, and one for those fixed before that date, to which it did not. Defendant has pointed to nothing in the Copyright Act or its legislative history which prevents us from concluding that Congress meant to apply the DMCA to the former category, but not the latter."

Second, the Court rejected Grooveshark's argument that the very purpose of the DMCA will be thwarted if it is deemed not to apply to the pre-1972 recordings. "The statutory language at issue involves two equally clear and compelling Congressional priorities: to promote the existence of intellectual property on the Internet, and to insulate pre-1972 sound recordings from federal regulation. As stated above, it is not unreasonable, based on the statutory language and the context in which the DMCA was enacted, to reconcile the two by concluding that Congress intended for the DMCA only to apply to post-1972 works."

April 22, 2013

Raising Capital By Selling Royalty Income

Web Helps Musicians Sell Shares of Royalties
Web sites like the Royalty Exchange allows musicians to sell parts of their royalty income to investors and define which rights to sell and which to retain.
Article here.   Ben Sisario, "Web Helps Musicians Sell Shares of Royalties", 4/22/2013 NYTimes (Business).

Capitol's Motion To Dismiss Class Action Denied

Davis v. Capitol Records, LLC, No. 4:12-cv-01602-YGR  (N.D. Cal. filed 04/18/13) [Doc. 73].

Plaintiff brought the action as a member of the music group, “The Motels,” and a shareholder, beneficiary, and/or successor-in-interest of the now-dissolved The Motels Music Corporation, Inc.  She brought the complaint alleging a nationwide class action for breach of standard recording contracts and for statutory violations of California law against Defendant Capitol Records, LLC (“Capitol”).  Plaintiff alleged that Capitol failed to account properly for royalties stemming from the licensing of musical performances or recordings produced by Plaintiff and putative class members under contract with Capitol, which were then were utilized by digital content providers, such as music download providers, music streaming providers, and ringtone providers, for digital download, streaming and distribution.  Capitol moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).

First, Capitol argued that the claims were time-barred under the parties' agreement relating to objecting to royalty statements.  However, the Court found that Plaintiff's allegations "arguably support a basis for tolling of the contractual limitations period."  (Emphasis added).  Accordingly, the motion to dismiss on limitations grounds was denied.

Second, Capitol moved to dismiss Plaintiff's claim for declaratory relief as duplicative of her claim for
breach of contract.  The Court held that it could not determine, as a matter of law, that declaratory relief would be duplicative or otherwise inappropriate such that it should be dismissed at the pleading stage.

Third, Capitol moved to dismiss Plaintiff;s claim for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing on the grounds that it is duplicative of her breach of contract claim. The Court disagreed.

Fourth, Plaintiff alleged a claim for violation of California Business & Professions Code section 17200, California’s Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”), based upon all three prongs of the statute – that is, unfair, unlawful, and fraudulent conduct. Capitol sought to dismiss the claim to the extent it is based upon either unlawful or fraudulent conduct.  As to the fraud prong, the Court found that Plaintiff's pleadings contained sufficient particularity to survive.  As to the unlawful prong, the Court found that, "Where, as here, the complaint alleges systemic conduct meant to breach the terms of, or deny the benefits of, agreements between the defendant and a group of similarly situated parties, it is sufficient state a claim for an unfair business practice in violation of the UCL."

Fifth, the Court struck Plaintiff's demand for punitive damages.

April 3, 2013

No Infringement Of Plot

Bolfrass v Warner Music Group, No. 1:12-cv-06648-LLS (S.D.N.Y. filed 04/02/2013) [Doc. 13].

Plaintiff alleged that a song published by defendant Warner Music ("Warner") infringed his copyright on his screenplay, in violation of the Copyright Act of 1976.  Warner moved to dismiss and for attorneys fees.  Warner's motion to dismiss was granted and its application for the award of attorney's s and costs was denied.

First, the Court examined whether Plaintiff's "plot" was afforded copyright protection.  The Court found that "the similarity two works here lies in their concepts, abstracted to a high degree of generality. Both are based on a concept of planetary breakdown and space travel, but their treatment is very different."  It concluded that "Because the lyrics of "Exogenesis: Symphony" do not express a plot, they do not infringe on "Panspermia: ExoGenesis."  The online liner notes a plot, but one that is far too abstract and general to infringe on Bollfrass' copyright."  Accordingly, the copyright claim was dismissed.

Second, the Court examined Plaintiff's claim for unfair competition, and found that it was preempted by the Copyright Act.  "Bollfrass' claim for unfair competition based only on Jarner's distribution of the allegedly
infringing song is therefore preempted by the Copyright Act.".

Third, the Court examined Warner's request for attorneys fees.  Ultimately, the request was denied on a "close call."

April 2, 2013

ReDigi Loses - Court Examines "Reproduction" & Distribution; Finds No "First Sale" For Digital Music

Capitol Records v. ReDigi, No. 1:12-cv-00095-RJS (S.D.N.Y filed 03/30/13) [Doc. 109].

The Court was faced with the question of whether the unauthorized transfer of a digital music file over the Internet – where only one file exists before and after the transfer – constitutes reproduction within the meaning of the Copyright Act. The Court holds that it does.  "Because the reproduction right is necessarily implicated when a copyrighted work is embodied in a new material object, and because digital music files must be embodied in a new material object following their transfer over the Internet, the Court determines that the embodiment of a digital music file on a new hard disk is a reproduction within the meaning of the Copyright Act."  Continuing, "the fact that a file has moved from one material object – the user’s computer – to another – the ReDigi server – means that a reproduction has occurred.  Similarly, when a ReDigi user downloads a new purchase from the ReDigi website to her computer, yet another reproduction is
created. It is beside the point that the original phonorecord no longer exists. It matters only that a new phonorecord has been created."

The Court also concluded that absent the existence of an affirmative defense, the sale of digital music files on ReDigi’s website infringes Capitol’s exclusive right of distribution.

The Court then considered ReDigi's affirmative defenses: fair use, and first sale.  With respect to fair use, "On the record before it, the Court has little difficulty concluding that ReDigi’s reproduction and distribution of Capitol’s copyrighted works falls well outside the fair use defense".  In sum, "ReDigi facilitates and profits from the sale of copyrighted commercial recordings, transferred in their entirety, with a likely detrimental impact on the primary market for these goods. Accordingly, the Court concludes that the fair use defense does not permit ReDigi’s users to upload and download files to and from the Cloud Locker incident to sale."

Turning to the first sale defense, the Court also disagreed.  First, the court found that "first sale" does not apply to the reproduction right, but only to the distribution right.  Second, the Court found that the music files were not lawfully made (they were unlawful reproductions) under the Copyright Act, and therefore not entitled to the first sale defense.

Third, the Court found that the first sale doctrine is limited to physical items. "Here, a ReDigi user owns the phonorecord that was created when she purchased and downloaded a song from iTunes to her hard disk. But to sell that song on ReDigi, she must produce a new phonorecord on the ReDigi server. Because it is therefore impossible for the user to sell her “particular” phonorecord on ReDigi, the first sale statute cannot provide a defense. Put another way, the first sale defense is limited to material items, like records, that the copyright owner put into the stream of commerce. Here, ReDigi is not distributing such material items; rather, it is distributing reproductions of the copyrighted code embedded in new material objects, namely, the ReDigi server in Arizona and its users’ hard drives. The first sale defense does not cover this any more than it covered the sale of cassette recordings of vinyl records in a bygone era".  The Court did note, however, that digital music on an iPod, computer or CD would be protected by the first sale doctrine ("Section 109(a) still protects a lawful owner’s sale of her “particular” phonorecord, be it a computer hard disk, iPod, or other memory device onto which the file was originally downloaded. While this limitation clearly presents obstacles to resale that are different from, and perhaps even more onerous than, those involved in the resale of CDs and cassettes, the limitation is hardly absurd – the first sale doctrine was enacted in a world where the ease and speed of data transfer could not have been imagined.")

Having made those determinations, the Court then found ReDigi directly and secondarily liable for copyright infringement of Plaintiff's reproduction and distribution rights.  Summary judgment was granted in Plaintiff's favor, except on its claims relating to Plaintiff's performance and display rights and common law infringement.

March 28, 2013

Public Performance Of Sound Recordings - Ad

Glenn Peoples, NAB Calls Performance Right 'Bad for Artists, Bad for Listeners', Billboard (Mar. 27, 2013) (link):

The National Association of Broadcasters has called a performance right for sound recordings “bad for radio, bad for artists and bad for listeners” in two newspaper advertisements thanking two new co-sponsors of the Congressional resolutions supporting the Local Radio Free Act.

March 27, 2013

KC/Sunshine Case Dismissed For Lack Of Standing

Smith v Casey, No. 1:12-cv-23795 (S.D. Fla. 3/21/2013) [Doc. 71].

Plaintiff was the administer of an estate of a recording artist, songwriter, producer, and musician who died in 2012. The decedent was the sole author of the musical composition entitled Spank.  Plaintiff alleged that, “[d]espite receipt of Decedent Smith’s Cease and Desist notice Defendants KC, Harrick Music, Sunshine Sound, Horne and Joy Productions have continued to commercially exploit the Composition ‘Spank.’  Count I of Plaintiff’s Complaint was for copyright infringement of the Spank composition only, and only for the period from November 28, 2011, when the Cease & Desist Letter was written, through the present.

Defendants moved to dismiss the copyright claims against them on either of two separate grounds: (1) Plaintiff lacks standing to sue for copyright infringement, given that he never registered his copyright interest; and (2) the Complaint contains insufficient allegations of infringement activity.  The Court agreed that the copyright infringement count should be dismissed for all Defendants because Plaintiff lacked standing to sue, and additionally as to the moving Defendants because of insufficient pleadings.

Standing to sue for infringement must necessarily be grounded in ownership of a copyright
interest. That ownership is determined in part by compliance with the formalities of the
Copyright Act. The Act provides that “[t]he legal or beneficial owner of an exclusive right under
a copyright is entitled, subject to the requirements of section 411, to institute an action for any
infringement of that particular right committed while he or she is the owner of it.” 17 U.S.C.
§ 501(b). Section 411, in turn, states that “no civil action for infringement of the copyright in
any United States work shall be instituted until preregistration or registration of the copyright
claim has been made in accordance with this title.” Id. § 411(a). Any registration for the
copyright sued upon must be commenced no later than the date that the suit was brought.  If Plaintiff produces a certificate of copyright, the burden shifts to Defendants to demonstrate why the claim of copyright is invalid. 

Here, Plaintiff has failed to produce a certificate of copyright with respect to the Spank
composition, and fails even to allege that it had registered for one by the time this Complaint was filed. Plaintiff does attach a Certificate of Copyright Registration, dated March 1, 1979, for
Spank to the Complaint, but the Certificate names Harrick Music as the Copyright Claimant.
Smith is listed only as the author, and the Registration notes that “Harrick Music, Inc. received transfer by written notice from Ronald Luis Smith.”  Even if the registration were the fruit of inaccurate information submitted by the registrant, Harrick Music, it is still a prerequisite to the filing of a copyright infringement claim – a prerequisite that neither Plaintiff nor Smith has satisfied. As such, the Court finds that Plaintiff lacks standing to bring Count I against any and all of the defendants, including Horne and Joy Productions.  [Internal citations omitted].

March 20, 2013

"First Sale" Applies To Copies Made Abroad; Sup. Ct.

Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, No. 11-697 (U.S. Mar. 19, 2013) (decision here).

The U.S. Supreme Court holds that the “first sale” doctrine applies to copies of a copyrighted work lawfully made abroad.

From the Court's syllabus:

The “exclusive rights” that a copyright owner has “to distribute copies . . . of [a] copyrighted work,” 17 U. S. C. §106(3), are qualified by the application of several limitations set out in §§107 through 122, in- cluding the “first sale” doctrine, which provides that “the owner of a particular copy or phonorecord lawfully made under this title . . . is entitled, without the authority of the copyright owner, to sell or oth- erwise dispose of the possession of that copy or phonorecord,” §109(a). Importing a copy made abroad without the copyright owner’s permission is an infringement of §106(3). See §602(a)(1). In Quality King Distributors, Inc. v. L’anza Research Int’l, Inc., 523 U. S. 135, 145, this Court held that §602(a)(1)’s reference to §106(3) incorporates the §§107 through 122 limitations, including §109’s “first sale” doctrine. However, the copy in Quality King was initially manufactured in the United States and then sent abroad and sold.

Respondent, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., an academic textbook publisher, often assigns to its wholly owned foreign subsidiary (Wiley Asia) rights to publish, print, and sell foreign editions of Wiley’s Eng- lish language textbooks abroad. Wiley Asia’s books state that they are not to be taken (without permission) into the United States. When petitioner Kirtsaeng moved from Thailand to the United States to study mathematics, he asked friends and family to buy foreign edition English-language textbooks in Thai book shops, where they sold at low prices, and to mail them to him in the United States. He then sold the books, reimbursed his family and friends, and kept the profit.

Wiley filed suit, claiming that Kirtsaeng’s unauthorized importation and resale of its books was an infringement of Wiley’s §106(3) exclusive right to distribute and §602’s import prohibition. Kirtsaeng replied that because his books were “lawfully made” and acquired legitimately, §109(a)’s “first sale” doctrine permitted importation and resale without Wiley’s further permission. The District Court held that Kirtsaeng could not assert this defense because the doctrine does not apply to goods manufactured abroad. The jury then found that Kirtsaeng had willfully infringed Wiley’s American copyrights and assessed damages. The Second Circuit affirmed, concluding that §109(a)’s “lawfully made under this title” language indicated that the “first sale” doctrine does not apply to copies of American copyrighted works manufactured abroad.

Held: The “first sale” doctrine applies to copies of a copyrighted work lawfully made abroad.

March 8, 2013

Spanish Radio Stations Hit With Copyright Suit By Puerto Rican Publisher And Performance Right Society

Latin American Music Co., Inc. v. Spanish Broadcasting System, Inc.. No. 13-cv-1526 (S.D.N.Y. filed March 7, 2013).

Plaintiffs are a Puerto Rican publisher and a performing rights society (ACEMLA) alleging that the owners of several Spanish-language terrestrial radio stations (with websites that simultaneously stream the stations' content over the internet) are playing Plaintiffs' songs over the radio/web without a license.  An injunction is sought.

March 6, 2013

ISPs in UK Ordered To Block Access to BitTorrent Sites

EMI Records Ltd. v. British Sky Broadcasting Ltd., 2013 ILRC 1337 (High Ct. of Justice Chancery Div. 2013) [link].

The UK's main retail ISPs were ordered to take measures to block or impede their customers' access to three peer-to-peer file-sharing websites (KAT, H33T and Fenopy) due to infringement.  Plaintiffs were record companies.  The Court concluded: (i) that UK users of the websites who have accounts with the Defendants have infringed, and are continuing to infringe, the plaintiffs copyrights by copying the Claimants' sound recordings on a large scale; (ii) that users of the Websites infringe the plaintiffs' copyrights both by copying and by communication to the public; and (iii) the operators of the Websites infringe the plaintiffs' copyright.  The plaintiffs' application was granted.