Macho Man Songwriter Wins Termination Case

Village People songwriter, lead singer and ersatz police officer, Victor Willis, has prevailed in a lawsuit challenging his termination of assignment (and resulting recapture) of copyright to his many hit songs.  To be honest, the decision is very straightforward and there really were not any difficult issues presented, particularly because the music publisher withdrew its claim that the songs were works made for hire (which would have rendered any attempt to terminate ineffective).  The only argument advanced by the publisher was that Mr. Willis could not terminate his assignment because he was only one of several joint authors of the assigned songs.

This argument was frivolous, however, because [Read more…]

Supreme Court News Flash: Downloads Still Not Public Performances

Wharfedale woofer
Creative Commons License photo credit: wstryder

File this one under “privileged glimpses of the bloody obvious.”  In a development that could be a surprise only to ASCAP and its counsel, the Supreme Court today has rejected ASCAP’s petition for certiorari, leaving in place the Second Circuit’s ruling that the mere act of downloading a sound recording does not constitute a public performance of the downloaded song.  [Read more…]

MP3tunes Summary Judgment Decision: Defendants Only Liable For Specific Songs In Takedown Notice That Were Not Taken Down


Creative Commons License photo credit: Tac Anderson

The Southern District of New York has issued its ruling in the Capitol Records v. MP3tunes case, granting partial summary judgment for each side. The bottom line is that MP3tunes and its founder, Michael Robertson (also the founder of MP3.com), are only liable for the infringement of sound recordings that were specifically identified in DMCA takedown notices but not removed from users’ accounts.

One amazing nugget hidden in the first footnote of the decision (page 12), is the court’s holding that the DMCA safe harbor applies to pre-1972 sound recordings, even though such recordings are not protected by federal copyright. This holding, if noticed and followed by Justice Kapnick, should destroy the claims brought by UMG Recordings against Grooveshark in New York State court. UMG brought these claims in state court, limited to common law copyright infringement for pre-’72 recordings, as an attempted end-run around the DMCA.

There are lots of other points of interest in the decision, which I will get to soon. In the meantime, I wanted to post the decision as quickly as possible for your reading enjoyment:

 

Recording Artists Set To Recapture Rights To Classic Albums

The upcoming war between recording artists and their slavemasters, er, I mean record labels, concerning termination of copyright transfers and the related work made for hire issue is a topic near and dear to my heart.  [Read more…]