Severe Records, LLC, v. Rich

Docket Number: 09-6175
Judge: Kennedy
Opinion Date: September 23, 2011

Pleased with the results of their first collaboration, the author and musician co-authored and recorded a second song. The relationship collapsed and the musician signed as a recording artist with unrelated recording and management companies. Accusations and altercations followed, and the author filed suit, alleging a “novel” claim of copyright infringement against the musician and others for preventing the author from commercially exploiting the two songs through threats contained in cease-and-desist letters and requests to music retailers that the songs not be offered for sale. The district court dismissed for failure to state a claim of copyright infringement. The Sixth Circuit affirmed dismissal of the copyright infringement claim, but reversed dismissal of a declaratory judgment claim. The author’s allegation that the musician transferred an interest in the first song, which she did not own, is not the same thing as creating an improper copy of the song and such transfer does not constitute infringement under the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. 106. The cease-and-desist letters on which the declaratory judgment action was based essentially challenge the authorship and ownership of the songs, implicating federal law, so its dismissal as a state law claim was improper. View “Severe Records, LLC, v. Rich” on Justia Law