Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. Smith

Docket Number: 12-1523
Judge: Suhrheinrich
Opinion Date: May 1, 2013

In 1974, songwriter, recording artist, producer, and performer Tilmon, composed the song “You’re Getting a Little Too Smart.” In 1976, Tilmon assigned all of his rights to the song to Bridgeport Music. In 1997, rapper Rashaam A. Smith a/k/a Esham A. Smith released the song “You & Me,” which, according to Bridgeport, unlawfully contained samples of the composition “Smart.” In 2003, plaintiffs, including Bridgeport, sued for copyright infringement. In 2004, plaintiffs obtained default judgments. In 2005, plaintiffs recorded the judgments with the U.S. Copyright Office. In 2011, Tilmon’s widow and a nonparty to the lawsuit, moved, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b), to set aside the default judgments because she was the legal owner of the copyright by operation of law at the time the lawsuit was filed. The district court denied the motion. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, finding that the motion was untimely because the widow was on constructive notice of the judgment and had not established an inference of fraud on the court.
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