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."