Scorpio Music v. Willis, No. 11-cv-1557 (S.D. Cal. filed 9/15/15) [Doc. 280].
In a dispute over the percentage of copyright ownership over the Village People's hit songs (including "YMCA") that went to a jury trial, the Court held that an original member of the group and author (invidivually and jointly) of various songs was entitled to attorney's fees as the prevailing party. 17 USC 505. The court found that Mr. Willis was the prevailing party and that he achieved a high degree of success: he defeated Plaintiff's claim that he could not unilaterally terminate his grants of copyright under 17 USC 203, prevailed on a number of summary judgment motions brought on the grounds of statute of limitations and laches, and prevailed on 13 of the 24 compositions at trial (including YMCA, the most lucrative). Specifically, the Court found that granting fees would advance the purposes of the Copyright Act inasmcuh as Mr. Willis was "trying to get back what he transferred to Plaintiffs, parties with superior bargaining power, decades ago. An award of attorney's fees is justified to encourage authors like Willis to assert their rights to regain their copyright interests and to deter production companies and other transferees of copyright from attempting to interfere with those rights." Willis sought an award of approximately $527,000, and the Court did not find that an upward or downward adjustment was warranted. Costs of approximately $3,000 were also taxed.