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First off today, Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter Esquire reports that “Weird Al” Yankovic and Sony have settled a $5 million lawsuit over underpaid royalties.
Yankovic had sued Sony initially alleging that Sony had underpaid him for digital downloads, billing them as “sales” rather than “licenses”, thus resulting in him getting 15% instead of 50% of the revenue. He estimated that to be worth at least $1.5 million. However, after an audit, Yankovic found what he considered other examples of underpayment and the alleged amount ballooned to $5 million.
Yankovic, best known for his parodies of popular songs, has now settled the case with Sony though the terms of the settlement are unknown. The case was dismissed with prejudice, meaning it can not be refiled, though other artists are also suing on the “sale” versus “license” issue.
Next up today, Ian Duncan at The Baltimore Sun reports that a federal appeals court has upheld a lower court decision and will allow the Baltimore Ravens, as well as others, to continue using the old logo for the team for historical and documentary purposes, even though it was found to be an infringement.
At issue is the original logo for the team (which is no longer used), refereed to as the “Flying B” logo. Artist Frederick E. Bouchat has successfully sued the team claiming to have designed the logo but having not received compensation or or credit. However, despite Bouchat’s wins, he’s been unable to win any significant damages, prompting him to continue to sue, including when the team used the logo as part of a historical exhibit at the stadium.
The Motion Picture Association of America had filed an amicus brief in the case saying that a ruling for the artist could hurt documentaries that use copyrighted works incidentally. The court ended up agreeing saying that “the consequences of this case reach far beyond its facts” and sided with the NFL, the team and the MPAA against the artist.
Finally today, Ted Johnson at Variety reports that New York U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin has ruled that the popular holiday song “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” will remain with EMI through 2029, when it will lapse into the public domain.
In 1981, the authors of the song, written in 1934, had sought to terminate their contract with Feist Publishing, who they had previously granted all “renewals and extensions” in the song to. Under copyright termination, they were eligible to do but that same year, before the termination was to take effect, they reached a new deal with Feist, which was later bought by EMI.
Since then, the heirs to one of the songwriters have sought to terminate the 1981 agreement but the court ruled that, since that termination was never recorded at the U.S. Copyright Office, as required under the law, it was ineffective. According to the judge, this means that the original 1951 agreement remains in effect and the further termination notices, filed in 2004, 2007 and 2012, are useless since the heirs “do not get a second bite at the termination apple.”
That’s it for the three count today. We will be back tomorrow with three more copyright links. If you have a link that you want to suggest a link for the column or have any proposals to make it better. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I hope to hear from you.
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