What's New

Copyright Case Opinion Summaries

Published on:

Albert Brumley, author of the gospel song “I’ll Fly Away,” assigned the song’s 1932 copyright to a company. The company subsequently became the property of his son, Robert. Albert died in 1977. Albert’s widow also executed an assignment to Robert. During the term of a copyright, an author may use, assign, sell, or license the copyright, 17 U.S.C. 201(d), but songwriters and their descendants may terminate the songwriter’s assignment of a copyright to another party, Sections 203, 304(c). In 2008, four of Brumley’s six children filed notice to terminate the assignment to their brother, Robert. The copyright was then generating about $300,000 per year. The district court and Sixth Circuit affirmed their right to terminate the assignment, rejecting arguments that the song was a “work made for hire,” which is not eligible for termination, 17 U.S.C. 304(c); and that Albert’s widow relinquished any termination rights. View “Brumley v. Brumley & Sons, Inc.” on Justia Law

Published on:

Plaintiff-Appellant BWP Media USA, Inc. d/b/a Pacific Coast News and National Photo Group, LLC (“BWP”) appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendant-Appellee Clarity Digital Group, LLC n/k/a AXS Digital Media Group, LLC (“AXS”). BWP owned the rights to photographs of various celebrities. In February 2014, BWP filed a complaint alleging that AXS infringed its copyrights by posting 75 of its photographs without permission on AXS’s website, “Examiner.com.” Rather than hiring a centralized writing staff, the content generated on Examiner.com was created by independent contractors, called “Examiners,” all over the world. Because it was a group of Examiners that posted the infringing content on Examiner.com, AXS asserted it was protected under the DMCA’s safe harbor provision. .” AXS asserted it was protected from liability by the safe harbor provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) and moved for summary judgment. The district court agreed. Finding no reversible error, the Tenth Circuit also agreed and affirmed the district court. View “BWP Media USA v. Clarity Digital Group” on Justia Law

Published on:

Consumer Health Information sued Amylin Pharmaceuticals,alleging copyright infringement. 17 U.S.C. 101, concerning patient-education materials Consumer Health developed for Amylin’s use in marketing its diabetes drug Byetta. The parties’ contract, executed in 2006, unambiguously assigns the copyright to Amylin. Consumer Health alleged that the contract was induced by fraud or economic distress and sought rescission. The district court dismissed the suit as untimely. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Consumer Health assigned the copyright to Amylin in 2006 but did not file this suit until 2013, several years too late under either a four-year limitations period that applies to claims for contract rescission under California law, or under the Copyright Act’s three-year statute of limitations, 17 U.S.C. 507(b). Consumer Health’s cause of action accrued when the contract was executed; at that point Consumer Health knew that Amylin owned the copyright, and the limitations clock on a suit to reclaim ownership started ticking. View “Consumer Health Info. Co v. Amylin Pharma., Inc.” on Justia Law

Published on:

Appellee Flo & Eddie, Inc. filed suit against Appellant Sirius on behalf of itself and a class of owners of pre-1972 recordings, asserting claims for common-law copyright infringement and unfair competition under New York law. Specifically, Appellee alleged that Appellant infringed Appellee’s copyright in The Turtles’ recordings by broadcasting and making internal reproductions of the recordings (e.g., library, buffer and cache copes) to facilitate its broadcasts. Because this case presents a significant and unresolved issue of New York copyright law, the court certified the following question to the New York Court of Appeals: Is there a right of public performance for creators of sound recordings under New York law and, if so, what is the nature and scope of that right? View “Flo & Eddie, Inc. v. Sirius XM Radio, Inc.” on Justia Law

Published on:

Appellee Flo & Eddie, Inc. filed suit against Appellant Sirius on behalf of itself and a class of owners of pre-1972 recordings, asserting claims for common-law copyright infringement and unfair competition under New York law. Specifically, Appellee alleged that Appellant infringed Appellee’s copyright in The Turtles’ recordings by broadcasting and making internal reproductions of the recordings (e.g., library, buffer and cache copes) to facilitate its broadcasts. Because this case presents a significant and unresolved issue of New York copyright law, the court certified the following question to the New York Court of Appeals: Is there a right of public performance for creators of sound recordings under New York law and, if so, what is the nature and scope of that right? View “Flo & Eddie, Inc. v. Sirius XM Radio, Inc.” on Justia Law