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…]

Seventh Circuit: Modifications to Architectural Plan Made at Direction of Commissioning Party Held Not Sufficiently Original to Engender Copyright Protection

Creative Commons License photo credit: Johnnie Utah

On July 26, 2011, the Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal on summary judgment of an architectural copyright infringement claim in Nova Design Build, Inc. v. Grace Hotels, LLC.  The plaintiff architectural design firm sued a former client, alleging that the owner of a Holiday Inn Express location infringed the plaintiff’s “design copyright” (whatever that is) by building the hotel based upon the plaintiff’s plans after failing to pay all of the money allegedly due for those plans.

The district court had dismissed the case on the ground that the identifying materials submitted with the plaintiff’s copyright application were not “bona fide” copies and therefore the registration was invalid.  The court found that the original plans had been burgled from its offices (!) and therefore it had to re-construct the plans from memory.  The district court held that this fact was sufficient to invalidate the registration, foreclosing any relief for copyright infringement. [Read more…]